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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 2, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(21):2649. doi:10.1001/jama.291.21.2649-c

Physicians know how difficult it is to persuade the public to adopt preventive measures in preventable diseases. It generally needs an extensive outbreak and considerable loss of life to impress on the mind of the average citizen the necessity for prophylactic measures. If this is true of diseases which have a considerable mortality, it is easy to see why, in a disease like malaria, which seldom results fatally in our climate, so few systematic attempts at stamping out the disease have been made. And yet the comparatively small amount of experience collected in the last few years tends to show that a district can be almost entirely rid of the disease in a relatively short time and at a relatively small expense. Two methods are at our disposal—that suggested by Koch, which consists in combating the disease in the human being, and the method mostly used by the French and English speaking peoples, which consists of destroying the intermediate host—the mosquito—and in protecting human beings against its bites. Two recent papers by French authors2give some idea of the relative effectiveness of the two systems. It would seem that the method usually employed in this country is much more effective than Koch's method. The two main reasons why Koch's method is difficult to enforce are the difficulty of getting people to take quinin when they think they are well, and the impossibility of detecting larvate cases of the disease even with the aid of a blood examination. A small amount of work has been done in this country attempting to exterminate malaria, but the main malarious districts as yet remain almost untouched. It is to be hoped that in the near future the work will be taken up in a systematic way.

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