EpiQuiz #1: History of Epidemiology

Question 1

This doctor was a pioneer in his field and is widely considered to have conducted the first controlled clinical trial. He had to deal with 12 sick patients, whom he divided into six groups of two each. They all received the same dietary portions, but in addition, they received the following extra rations:

Group NumberAdditional Rations
1Quart of cider daily
225 drops of elixir of vitriol (sulfuric acid)
36 spoonfuls of vinegar
4Half a pint of sea water
5Two oranges and one lemon
6Spicy paste and a drink of barley water

The treatment of Group 5 was stopped after 6 days when they ran out of fruits, but by that time, one patient was completely cured and the other was substantially rejuvenated. One patient in group 1 showed some minor improvements.

Identify the doctor and the disease he helped cure.

Question 2

What is the significance of this death certificate?

Question 3

This practice is widely believed to have originated in the late 1300s in what is now the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. In its original form, it was called a trentino. This practice was initially observed for 30 days, but soon after its initiation, was extended to be observed for 40 days. Some say this extension was done to align with Christian religious beliefs that a 40-day period was of great significance – length of Lent, length of the great flood, Moses’ stay on Mount Sinai and Jesus Christ’s stay in the wilderness. The modern name for this practice is also derived from the length of 40 days.

What is this practice we are talking of?

Question 4

A much beloved event in the history of epidemiology happened at the red mark in the epi curve given below. What was the event?

Hint: The year of the event was 1854.

Question 5

Many historians say that the following event triggered the advent of the disease “X” in Europe, which led to one of the most lethal pandemics till date. In 1346, during the siege of the city of Caffa, now called Feodossia in Crimea, some of the members of the invading Tartar forces contracted a mysterious and lethal illness. Gabriele de’ Mussi, an Italian notary, wrote: ““The dying Tartars, stunned and stupefied by the immensity of the disaster brought about by the disease, and realizing that they had no hope of escape, lost interest in the siege. But they ordered corpses to be placed in catapults and lobbed into the city in the hope that the intolerable stench would kill everyone inside. What seemed like mountains of dead were thrown into the city, and the Christians could not hide or flee or escape from them, although they dumped as many of the bodies as they could in the sea. And soon the rotting corpses tainted the air and poisoned the water supply, and the stench was so overwhelming that hardly one in several thousand was in a position to flee the remains of the Tartar army. Moreover one infected man could carry the poison to others, and infect people and places with the disease by look alone. No one knew, or could discover, a means of defense.”

What is “X”?


7 thoughts on “EpiQuiz #1: History of Epidemiology

  1. 1) James Lind, Scurvy
    2) Francis Lewis was index case of 1854 Cholera epidemic
    3) Quarantine
    4) Handle removal from Broad Street pump during 1854 Cholera epidemic
    5) Bubonic Plague/ Black death


  2. Q1. James Lind & scurvy
    Q2. Death certificate of index case of cholera epidemic in 1854
    Q4. Pump removed from the contaminated well,cholera epidemic , broad street in 1854
    Q5. Plague


  3. 1. James Lind
    2. Index Case of Cholera Outbreak of 1854
    3. Quarantine
    4. 1854 Cholera outbreak John Snow diagnoses the culprit water pump
    5. Bubonic Plague


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