Quoting from the Memoire instructif sur l'epizootie, written by one of Louis XVI's leading advisors, Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot in 1776, Dorothee Brantz showed how the French authorities also adopted a contagionist
stance against rinderpest and insisted not only on segregating animals and burying the dead in quicklime, but also disinfecting the barns and stables with sulphuric acid to annul or counteract the miasmatic vapours that festered therein.
By examining the responses to cholera epidemics of the colonial administration and various European countries, as well as of the pilgrims themselves, Mishra shows how political and economic considerations led the British Indian Government to explain cholera as a "disease of locality," thus ignoring contagionist
explanations, which had already gained acceptance in Europe.
Two main theories emerged in Philadelphia in 1793: the medical controversy revolved largely around the hostile opposition between Benjamin Rush and William Currie as the leading advocates of"climatist" and "contagionist
" schools of thought.
* This combination of prevention and control measures reflected the unresolved conflict between contagionist
and anti-contagionist views of cholera's causation.
For the contagionist
, Quentin's feverish shaking indicates that something has been passed to him from another person.
Ackerknecht suggested that authoritarian regimes that placed emphasis on the interests of the community and the state subscribed to the contagionist
thesis with its corollary of quarantine, while more liberal regimes with their stress on the primacy of individual freedom were anti-contagious and focused on the importance of sanitation reform.
Although no one could explain why, as one contagionist
put it, there were marshes without malaria, and malaria without marshes, miasmatic or exhalation theory was the ruling orthodoxy for most of the nineteenth century.
In the final decade of the nineteenth century the germ theory of disease gradually became the dominant scientific paradigm of infection, replacing the contagionist
and miasmatist theories that had previously been regarded as scientific orthodoxy.
(30) Most nineteenth-century physicians embraced either the contagionist
(exotic, imported, spread by person-to-person contact) or the anticontagionist (endemic, spread by disease vector-to-person contact) theories of disease etiology.
It is inaccurate to pose 19th century contagionist
theory as the banner of the conservatives, and the environmental theory as the banner of the radicals, as Livesey and Lipsius do.
Conflicting theories of disease causation (contagionist
and anti-contagionist) demanded different solutions, compounding the reluctance of the city council to opt for one method or another at the risk of being mistaken.
It did not help the germ-focused contagionists
that their exquisite theory came with no new treatments, nor did it help that their successes were closely aligned with a kind of colonial triumphalism that relegated traditional knowledge to the realm of ignorant superstition.