Cholera History and UVM Research Presented in Dana Library Exhibit

Cholera Exhibit PHOTOCholera epidemics have scourged human kind for centuries of recorded history. “Cholera: Man versus Microbe,” an exhibit currently on display in the Dana Library, presents the history, the science, and the hope for eradication of this disease.

The exhibit opens with bleak images depicting the emergence of cholera in 19th century Europe. A chronology of the discovery of the causative agent, vibrio cholera, follows with the contributions of the major researchers including Pacini, Snow, and Koch described. A diagram shows how the cholera bacterium and its deadly toxin affect its human hosts, and the panel notes the proven public health, rehydration, and vaccine therapies that reduce mortality when applied. The exhibit closes with images of cholera in the 21st century, and the contributions a group of UVM researchers are making to combat this devastating disease.

Bibliographies of historical and contemporary articles about cholera supplement the exhibit, as do relevant materials from the Dana Library collection. Of particular interest are reprints of original articles by John Snow.

The exhibit coincides with the 2013 UVM First Year required reading, the Ghost Map: the story of London’s most terrifying epidemic–and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world by Steven Johnson. The epidemic described is cholera; the impact is the advancement of urban public health.

Library Associate Professor Frances Delwiche, MLIS of Dana Library is the exhibit curator. She was assisted by members of the University’s Vaccine Testing Center’s Cholera Vaccine Study team

: Caroline Lyon, MD, MPH, PI; Elisabeth Lucas, Study Coordinator; Sarah Petri, Research Technician; Beth Kirkpatrick, Director, Vaccine Testing Center.

Cholera Reception 009
Marianne Burke, Director of Dana Medical Library (left) and Beth Kirkpatrick, Director, Vaccine Testing Center (right) discuss the exhibit

A reception to highlight the exhibit and UVM cholera research was held on October 24th. Many members of the Cholera Vaccine Study Team were in attendance, as were Provost David Rosowsky and Robert F. Cioffi, Chair of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees. Provost Rosowsky has recently posted two articles inspired by “The Ghost Map,” UVM’s first-year required book, on his blog at

Also present was Mitchell Snowe, a participant in the ongoing UVM Cholera Vaccine study. Participants ingested the live cholera bacterium and were patients for 8-9 days  in the hospital. Mitch blogged about his experiences here: For more information about the UVM Cholera Vaccine Study, see a recent article, entitled “UVM Center Demonstrates Global Health Commitment with Launch of Oral Cholera Vaccine Study.”

The exhibit will continue through December 20.

Laura Haines, MLS

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