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History of Medicine Epidemic cholera is an acute, painful, and often fatal disease which ravaged nearly the entire world during several severe outbreaks over the course of the 19th century. It is a diarrheal disease which can cause death by dehydration to an untreated patient in a matter of hours and is extremely contagious in communities without adequate, modern sanitation, as most of the world was in 1817 when it first left India. News of its spread and impending approach often sent panic into entire nations, and health professionals were largely at a loss as to how to treat or prevent it until modern epidemiological and laboratory techniques were developed later in the century.

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