Victorian Era Research Project

Medical Problems & Working Conditions

What diseases were occurring during the Industrial Revolution?

  • Cholera
  • Smallpox
  • Typhoid
  • Typhus
  • Tuberculosis (TB)


Cholera is caused by contaminated water. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, sewage was being allowed to come in contact with drinking water. Given that the main source of water for most households was from the contaminated water, it was not hard for the disease to spread quickly. The rich had no way to escape the outbreak and were affected along with the rest of the population. There were approximately 15,000 deaths in London in the years 1848-49 and this is why it is nicknamed "King Cholera."


Tuberculosis is a disease that attacks the lungs. In the lungs attempts to fight the disease, it creates tubercles. These are what come up when the ill individual has coughing fits. It is spread by breathing in the exhaled sputum of someone infected.


Although Edward Jenner created a vaccine for smallpox, many people did not know about it. The disease is highly contagious and can be fatal and infectious.

Typhoid & Typhus

Typhoid is a bacterial fever caused by infected water. People were migrating from farms to the cities and they had no method to properly clean the water yet. Symptoms of typhoid include red spots on the chest area, abdomen, and back. Typhus is an infectious disease characterized by a purplish rash, headaches, fever, and sometimes delirium. It is transmitted by lice, ticks, mice, and rat fleas.

How did working conditions contribute to medical problems?

Working conditions during the Industrial Revolution were terrible. Employers didn't care about anything besides making a profit. Lack of safety precautions caused many accidents. Once an accident occurred, the workers were often abandoned, offered no medical assistance, no compensation, and wages were stopped immediately. Children also worked in the factories at very young ages. Many children that worked had physical deformities due to lack of exercise and sunlight.


Poddar, Ankur. "Working and Living Conditions." The Industrial Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

Trueman, Chris. "Diseases in Industrial Cities in the Industrial Revolution." Diseases in Industrial Cities in the Industrial Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.

"Untitled Document." Untitled Document. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.