Cyber Sleuths

John Snow earned legendary status in the public-health field when the 19th-century epidemiologist and anesthesiologist solved London's deadly cholera epidemic of 1854 by removing a pump handle that he found to be the culprit. Nearly a

century-and-a-half later, cyber sleuths can conduct their own investigation of the case on a Web site designed by UCLA Department of Epidemiology Chair Ralph R. Frerichs. Frerichs was moved to create the site by his concern over the relative anonymity of one-time epidemiologic icons. "John Snow, a leading figure in our field, is commemorated not with a museum or public-health institution, but only with the name of a London pub," Frerichs says.  He hopes his site will restore some of the lost interest, encouraging Internet users to experience the joy and intrigue of public-health history as they hone their detective skills in much the way a modern epidemiologist approaches a public-health conundrum. The site includes multiple layers of information that enable the user to dig deeply into Snow's background, pursue the facts surrounding his investigation of the 1854 epidemic and locate key sites on a detailed period map of London. It also includes links to present-day information on cholera and the London Epidemiological Society, founded by Snow; a photo tour of Snow's London; and a peek at the John Snow Pub.

 Source: UCLA Magazine 12(1), Summer '00, p. 63.