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By Alfredo Morabia (auth.), Alfredo Morabia (eds.)

Methods, simply as illnesses or scientists, have their very own background. it is crucial for scientists to pay attention to the genesis of the tools they use and of the context within which they have been developed.

A heritage of Epidemiologic equipment and Concepts relies on a set of contributions which seemed in "SPM overseas magazine of Public Health", beginning in January 2001. The contributions specialize in the old emergence of present epidemiological tools and their relative value at varied deadlines, instead of on particular achievements of epidemiology in controlling plagues comparable to cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid fever, or lung melanoma. The papers current the layout of potential and retrospective reports, and the suggestions of bias, confounding, and interplay. The compilation of articles is complemented through an creation and reviews via Prof. Alfredo Morabia which places them within the context of present epidemiological research.

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In 1852, one of the major water suppliers of London, the Lambeth Water Company, in accordance with an Act of Parliament, changed its source of Thames water. Its pumps were moved from near Hungerford Bridge, where the water was certainly soiled by sewage, to a place well outside London, beyond the influence of the tide and therefore out of reach of the London sewage. In contrast, another water supplier, the Southwark and Vauxhall Company, continued to draw its water from Battersea Fields, a seriously polluted area.

First, the mortality rates remained small (between about 1 and 10 per 1,000 inhabitants per year), and skeptical opponents could invoke many alternative reasons for which mortality could be higher south than north of the Thames (Eyler, Part Ila). The conditions for a rigorous group comparison occurred spontaneously. In 1852, one of the major water suppliers of London, the Lambeth Water Company, in accordance with an Act of Parliament, changed its source of Thames water. Its pumps were moved from near Hungerford Bridge, where the water was certainly soiled by sewage, to a place well outside London, beyond the influence of the tide and therefore out of reach of the London sewage.

1. Disease prevalence divided by incidence It has been suggested that Farr had made the first description of the relation between prevalence and incidence, as follows: " ... in estimating the prevalence of diseases, two things must be distinctly considered; the relative frequency of their attacks, and the relative proportion of sick-time they produce. The first may be determined at once, by a comparison of the number of attacks with the numbers living; the second by enumerating several times the living and the actually sick of each disease, and thence deducing the mean proportion suffering constantly.

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