Doctors, reformers, and demon disease
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This study explores how the first three cholera epidemics in Great Britain provided opportunities for struggles over authority to be played out among medical professionals, the British public, and the state. Cholera played a foundational role in motivating public health reform and strongly influenced the ways in which the British government interacted with its population. Over the course of the three epidemics, cholera increasingly became a state sanitation issue rather than an individual health issue, and responses focused on public health reform and prevention rather than medical treatment and cure. The cholera epidemics changed the way local and state agencies interacted as the centralized state government struggled for control over local governments. Cholera also altered the interactions between the public and the state through the imposition of health regulations, while also demonstrating the necessity of collaboration between the medical profession and the state in public health policy.