On Epidemics: Studied by Means of Statistics of Disease

A. Ransome
1868 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
THERE is probably no more legitimate use of the instrument of statistics than its application to the study of epidemic diseases. It may be possible, by individual observation at the bedside of patients, to learn something of the nature of the poisons which originate these diseases-to note the mode in which they affect the organism, and the injuries which they inflict upon it; but no complete knowledge of these wanidering disorders can be obtained by this method. When it is required to
more » ... quired to ascertaini the conditions under which epidemics arise, and the laws which govern their progrress, an altogether different mode of research is needed. This can only be attained by the accurate observations of many medical men, carefully recorded and collected together. Like the cyclones of the atmosphere, these storms of disease can only be tracked, and the laws of their course discovered, by the combined efforts of many observers, acting under the same regulations, and using instruments of the same uniform standard. That which Captain Maury and Admiral Fitzroy have done for meteorology and navigation, needs now to be attempted on behalf of medical science. More than thirty years ago, Dr. Graves, speaking of epidemic and endemic diseases, says: "Were the rulers of civilised nations to bring into active operation a number of institutions which, discharging the functions of medical observatories, should observe and record the appearance and symptoms of epidemics, many curious facts relating to their
doi:10.1136/bmj.2.406.386 fatcat:rn7jofbhbjdmhpicgp6qyrzgsm