These four maps demonstrate the significant spatial differences in distributions of four disease patterns. The four mapped diseases are Diphtherie (Diphtheria), Unterliebstyphus (Typhus), Lungenwindsucht (Tuberculosis or Consumption), and Sumpffieber or Wechselfieber (Malaria). Diphtheria is dependent primarily upon people. Typhus is due to a combination of transportation, population density and people. Tuberculosis distribution is defined by a combination of topography, climate and pedological (soil) features in relation to people. Malaria is an example of the classic host-vector zoonotic disease migration problem that plagues the world for nearly two centuries by the time this was published.
The influences of Prussian (German) cartographers and medical topographers/medical climatologists dominated the medical and disease geography profession between 1800 and 1850. When the first influential disease geographer became famous, Alexander Keith Johnston, the map he produced (https://brianaltonenmph.com/gis/historical-disease-maps/alexander-keith-johnstons-famous-map-a-detailed-review-1856/ ) was up against three very reputable maps produced by three German medical cartographers.
The most famous map that was published about the time of Johnston’s map was produced by Adolph Muhry (1856) (image with review is at https://brianaltonenmph.com/gis/historical-disease-maps/adolph-muhrys-global-disease-map/ ). Its emphasis on climate, global wind flow patterns, travel routes, and latitude-longitude global features made it a tough map to follow to physicians in the more Anglican communities. The predecessor to this map, produced in 1848 by Heinrich Berghaus (‘Planiglob . . . der vornehmsten Krankheiten’, image with review is at https://brianaltonenmph.com/gis/historical-disease-maps/heinrich-berghauss-physikalischer-atlas-1848/ 😉 served the German readership with the needed background to interpreting and understanding Muhry’s map.
British mapmakers had less a sense of authority in this profession globally at the time. Supplementing the German leadership in this field was the purely geographic taxonomy for diseases developed by another Prussian/Germanic cartographer and specialist in this field in 1847 –- Dr. Carl Friedrich Canstatt and his book Handbuch der medicinischen Klinik (https://brianaltonenmph.com/gis/historical-medical-geography/dr-carl-friedrich-canstatts-handbuch-der-mediziniche/ ), in which the classification of diseases was perfected based upon a combination of environmental and human population features, including topography, climate, population patterns, wildlife and plants, natural disaster events, solar and even barometric influences.
Prior to the perfection of the climate-topography philosophy of disease in the 1840s was the work of German cartographer and sociologist Freidrich Schnurrer (coarse image with review is at https://brianaltonenmph.com/gis/historical-disease-maps/friedrich-schnurrers-charte-uber-die-geographische-ausbreitung-der-krankheiten-1827/ ; my complete translation and review of this map is now in process).
Like many broadly read and trained professors, he had the knowledge background needed to map out the underlying climatic, environments, temperamental, evolutionary (pre- or Social Darwinian), cultural, anthropic, toxicologic, geologic, climatic and biological nature of the large numbers of diseases documented by explorers and missionaries around the world. Schnurrer also managed to review the famed plague epidemics and a variety of race-ethnicity related histories of diseases, and placed his observations on his map, detailing a part of medical history that has barely covered since and before this work was accomplished.
In light of these findings, from my work on these four most important maps in the history of medical geography, it now makes sense why this 1880 map on four Prussian diseases in the Germanic part of Europe remains one of my top visitor sites.
I review extensively the evolution of disease map philosophy and history at https://brianaltonenmph.com/gis/applying-new-methods-with-gis/space-time-behavior-in-medical-geography/