Monday 23 October 2017


Q INFECTIOUS diseases were the big killer of the 19th century, when the death rate in any one year was close to three times as high as it is now.

Scarlatina, croup, whooping-cough, fever, smallpox, diarrhoea, measles and dysentery killed one-in-five people in 1864, the historical records show.

These give a clear picture of how medical and social advances have prolonged life, with some 93,144 deaths registered in 1864, falling to 44,547 by 1922 and to 28,456 in 2011.

One in 10 people – 4,614 in total – died of TB in 1922, while 3,345 died from bronchitis and nearly 2,800 from pneumonia and 1,812 from the flu.

By 1964, TB deaths were a tenth of what they had been a few decades earlier, but heart disease killed 10,303 people, while nearly 5,000 died from cancer, and over 1,000 died from accidents/other external causes.

A staggering 13,425 babies died before the age of one in 1854, but medical advances meant this fell to 1,712 infant deaths in 1964 and 262 in 2011.

Irish Independent

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