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William Budd (14 September 1811 – 9 January 1880) was an English physician and epidemiologist known for recognizing that infectious diseases were contagious. He recognized that the "poisons" involved in infectious diseases multiplied in the intestines of the sick, were present in their leaks, and could then be transmitted to the healthy through their consumption of contaminated water.[1]

William Budd
William Budd2.jpg
Born(1811-09-14)14 September 1811
North Tawton, Devon, England
Died14 January 1880(1880-01-14) (aged 68)
Clevedon, Somerset, England
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Known forRecognizing contagious nature of infectious diseases.
Scientific career
FieldsPhysician, Epidemiologist

He particularly understood this about the transmission of cholera (as he learned from the work of the physician John Snow) and typhoid fever.

Early life and educationEdit

William Budd

William Budd was born in 1811 at North Tawton, Devon to an English surgeon, Samuel Budd, and his wife Catherine Wreford. He graduated MBChB from the University of Edinburgh in 1838. Six of his nine brothers, including George Budd, also went into medicine.[2]


In 1841 Budd moved to Bristol, where he started a practice as a surgeon. He became physician to St. Peter's Hospital in 1842, and to the Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1847.[2]

Using his theory and reading John Snow's essay about cholera in London (1849), Budd took measures to protect the Bristol's water supply.[3] He announced the importance of the work of two Bristol colleagues, Frederick Brittan and Joseph Griffiths Swayne, of organisms (described as "fungoid") in the "rice-water evacuations" of cholera victims.[4] The work of Brittan and Swayne was disregarded at the time, when the miasma theory of infections from the air prevailed.[5] Budd, on the other hand, is credited with decreasing the incidence of deaths in Bristol from cholera, from 2000 (out of a population of 140,000) in 1849 to 29 in 1866.[3]

Budd's obituary is found in the Lancet 1880;i: 148. Part of William Budd's archive is held at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.[6]

Selected worksEdit


  1. ^ Asimov, Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology 2nd Revised edition
  2. ^ a b Pelling, Margaret. "Budd, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3881.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b Robert Moorhead, "William Budd and typhoid fever", J R Soc Med., 2002 November; 95(11): 561–564, Retrieved 7 March 2010
  4. ^ London Journal of Medicine. 1849. p. 987.
  5. ^ Peter Vinten-Johansen; Howard Brody; Nigel Paneth; Stephen Rachman; Michael Rip; David Zuck (1 May 2003). Cholera, Chloroform, and the Science of Medicine: A Life of John Snow. Oxford University Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-19-974788-7.
  6. ^ "London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Archives". London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.