Transmission Routes of Cholera, the most devastating illness of the 19th Century


Marschroute der Cholera, der verheerendsten Krankheit des 19ten Jahrhunderts.

Literally: Marching Routes of Cholera, the most devastating illness of the 19th Century.


This world map, which was published in 1849, shows “cholera on the march”. It was one of the first published maps to show the transmission of a disease on a global scale.

The cholera transmission map is an inset map in a larger work that also includes maps on elephantiasis, small pox, and consumption.
This larger map may be the oldest extant map to show the global distribution of disease.


Some of the main transmission routes shown on the map are as follows:

  • Calcutta (1817) – Canton (1820) – Peking (1821)
  • Calcutta (1817) – Sumatra (1819) – Java (spelled Djava) (1819-23)
  • Calcutta (1817) – Lahore (1819 and 1828) – Kabul (1829) – Khiwa (1829) – Kasan (1830) – Archangel 1831
  • Bombay (1818) – Ceylon (1819) – Mauritius/Bourbon (1819)
  • Bombay (1818) – Basra (1821) – Eastern Mediterranean (1823) – Cairo (1831) – Darfur (n.d.)
  • Berlin – Scotland (1831)
  • London – New York 1831
  • London – New Orleans 1831

Note on Priority

Frank A. Barrett argues that the first world map of human disease was created in 1792 by the German physician L.L. Finke. He also points out that another German physician, Friedrich Schnurrer, presented a world disease map in 1827. Schnurrer’s map attempted to show the world distribution of yellow fever, plague and cholera.

Brigham’s 1832 A Treatise on epidemic cholera includes a map that effectively shows the progress of cholera throughout the world, though it is not a complete world map.


Frank A. Barrett (2000). Permalink11px.gifFinke’s 1792 map of human diseases: the first world disease map?DOI. Social Science & Medicine Volume 50, Issues 7-8, 1 April 2000, Pages 915-921.

Brigham, A. (1832) A treatise on epidemic cholera. Hartford: H. and F. J. Huntington.


The cholera transmission map is an inset in Planiglob Zur Ubersicht der Geographischen Verbreitung Der Vornehmsten Krankheiten, in
Dr. Heinrich Berghaus’ Physikalischer Atlas oder Sammlung von Karten, 1849.


The inset map is derived from the image in the David Rumsey Collection [1].

The map is also available online from the Harvard University Library [2].

Copyright status

The David Rumsey image is Copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates.


Public license

The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. This photograph of the work is also in the public domain in the United States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.).