filth diseases

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A term coined by the British social administrator Charles Murchison (1830–1879) in 1858 and widely used by the public health reformers of 19th century England to describe a class of diseases associated with the unhygienic conditions that prevailed in the urban slums of the early industrial period. The filth diseases included all the departures from health associated with poor personal hygiene, lack of adequate sanitation, presence of vermin such as rats and cockroaches, poverty, and overcrowding, for instance several children obliged to sleep in the same bed, which enhanced the risk of cross-infection with serious respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis. These diseases include respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, diseases spread by ticks, lice, and fleas. The term is obsolete and pejorative, but the conditions described by the term still occur among some poor and underprivileged people even in rich industrial nations.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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