Public health is a relatively new concern in the history of mankind. This is not due to people simply not caring, but rather their inability to understand how illnesses are spread. Germ theory was essential in order to help contain and prevent transferrable disease. Before this advancement in microbiology, medical professionals had to theorize the cause of illnesses. These doctors proposed humoral and subsequently miasma theory. Humoral theory proposed that imbalances of phlegm, red bile, black bile, and blood. Miasma theory suggested that illness was caused by miasma, or bad air, usually emanating from rotten organic matter. As wrong as miasma theory was, it certainly was a better explanation than humoral theory. The idea that filth, rotten material, and stenches harbored illnesses is still something expressed by people today, and therefore must have some truth.
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