This episode’s got it coming out of both ends! Toren, Kevin, Joe are joined by Almost Dr. Jenna to talk about cholera. Death by vomit and diarrhea, cholera cots, mummies, and how procrastination led to the world’s first artificial vaccine!

Music: “Shoggoths Away” by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets



25 Responses

    1. Bah, it helps when my iTunes doesn’t crash before the end of the podcast and I write up something you already talk about. ^_^

  1. In Alien 3, in order to make sure Newt didn’t die of aliens, she asks the doctor to do a full autopsy, claiming that there may be an outbreak of cholera.

    Which the doctor claims hasn’t been around for over 200 years.

  2. As someone who has personally both stuffed a cadaver’s anus and eaten dog (not anywhere near the same time mind you), I can recommend not doing former, and trying the latter. Heck, do the former, life it short. Soak up all the experiences you can, eh?

  3. John Snow didn’t stop the cholera outbreak in London by chlorinating the water. Instead he had enough evidence that the outbreak in Soho was centred on the Broad Street pump that the pump was disabled by removing the handle. “The Medical Detective” by Sandra Hempel is an excellent read if you want to know more about this whole story.

  4. Not only did Dean Stockwell play Wilbur in the 1970’s Dunwich Horror, he was also in the 2009 TV version, only this time as Professor Armitage.

  5. I’d recommend reading “The Ghost Map” by Steven Johnson. It is a “historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London”.

    I got curious about the population of Tokyo around 1850. Here is what I could dig up.

    1721, Edo’s is the world’s largest city with an estimated population of 1.1 million. Edo is later renamed to Tokyo in 1868. An 1889 Census recorded 1,389,600 people in Tokyo City, Japan’s largest city at the time.

    Seems fair to estimate Tokyo’s population was approx. 1.2 – 1.3 million around 1850-1860. It could have been higher but the cholera outbreak may have brought it down a bit.

    Also Kevin, I would share this experience I had regarding Poland and perogies. I met a Polish guy while backpacking in Europe. I said where can I get good perogies. He said perogies were not Polish food. Ukranian food. Perhaps there are some Polish Soda-mites out there listening to the show that can confirm or deny this man’s claim. I’d like to know!

      1. D’oh! This is the book I was thinking of – not the one I mentioned above (which I haven’t read). The Ghost Map *is* the one I read and it is really good.

  6. I know it’s early but I feel confident that the Caustic Soda quote of 2012 will be “You, get out of that anus!”

  7. Another great episode! Thanks for bringing The Math Song back for Lesser of Two Evils. Topic suggestion: SPERM! The silent Killer.

  8. A cholera outbreak was important to the storyline in the 2009 Drama “Jin”, which won many awards and was very popular in Japan. It’s a love story/medical drama about a brain surgeon traveling back in time to Edo-period Japan and doing medicine without the proper tools. Two hour-long episodes feature cholera and its treatment in detail, such as carving holes in wooden beds and creating a supply chain to carry the waste and dead bodies away. It also goes into detail about ORT which you didn’t cover in this episode. The series also fantastically features things like brain surgery with a chisel (and without anesthetic), syphilis, and beriberi.

  9. I agree with some of the other posters – this episode had some great lines! Thanks again guys.

    There is a book that you guys have to read if you love cholera:
    The Siege of Krishnapur, a novel by the author J. G. Farrell, published in 1973. The whole book is about these English folks who get holed up in a mansion they have to defend from Sepoy rebels in India (1850’s era). One of the major plot lines is that most of the English contract cholera and more of them die from the cholera than from the battle. There’s one great chapter in the book where two doctors are fighting over whether the germ theory of cholera or the humours theory of cholera are true and the humours theory doctor drinks a full glass of liquid recently excreted from one of his patients. Needless to say, the guy dies a short time later of cholera. Anyway, the book is disgusting but very funny in an ironic sense and it won the Booker Prize many years ago. A great read.

    Another great cholera movie is about the seige of Khartoum: Wilbur Smith’s novel The Triumph of the Sun. One of the plot lines is that some of the English contract cholera. There is a very accurate description of the symptoms, as well as the treatment at the time (1880’s) – drinking shitloads of water with rehydration salts in them. It was very painful for the victims to do this, however, because every time they drank, they would vomit and shit it all out almost immediately in a very painful way. Anyway, another great novel with cholera in it.

  10. Thanks for another brilliant episode! I learned alot though very early in my episode i did put down my dinner and have not touched it since. 🙂

  11. The Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato, the Mexican mummies you spoke of, spent some time in Detroit a couple of winters ago. They are really wondrous to behold, since they were not specifically prepared. They are wearing their peasant clothes, military uniforms… whatever they had, and they range from landowners to field hands, babies and bruja.

    My favorite was easily the hall of infants.

    I did a little write-up and photoset here:

  12. If only Dr. John Snow was spelled the right way and not the crazy way then I’d have another person to note that I share a name with.

  13. A bit late, and probably not all that interesting, but: I was just skimming through the parish records of one of my ancestral villages (as one does), when I came across a page that reminded me of this episode. This is the record of the deaths during a couple of weeks in the autumn of 1836, in the small village of Jernye, Hungary (now Jarovnice, in eastern Slovakia). Note the the causes of death, in the third-to-last column.
    I run into clusters of cholera deaths like this, from time to time (including one that wiped out multiple generations of my family), and it really help me understand how devastating these outbreaks were/are.