How Cholera Made Paris

Just wrapped up Series 2 of Downton Abbey (hugely disappointing, compared with the stellar Series 1). Maggie Smith had one of her usual great throwaway lines about a party in Paris that was hit by cholera, and a quick search uncovered this article. Worth a read for anyone who thinks Paris is nothing but romance and art – it was once a hotbed of plague.

AT THE end of March 1832, Paris’s Hôtel-Dieu hospital began to receive a steady stream of patients. They had a wide range of symptoms – apoplexy, fever, chest pains, vomiting, headaches. Most of them were dead within a day or two. A sixmonth cholera epidemic, which was to claim 7,000 lives in the next two weeks and 19,000 in total, had begun.

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