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September 21, 1935


JAMA. 1935;105(12):968-971. doi:10.1001/jama.1935.02760380044015

So long as human beings are gregarious and prefer to live in crowded communities, they must contend with epidemics. In some modern centers of civilization there has developed a false sense of security in this regard. An epidemic is a disease of the crowd and may flare up like a forest fire. Modern preventive medicine and interest in public health measures have accomplished miracles in controlling herd infections. Nevertheless, calamity always is possible. Witness the recent terrific epidemic of malaria in Ceylon, where an enormous mortality rate has been recorded in a disease the cause of which is known and for which specific treatment is available. The Chicago outbreak of amebiasis was significant. Consider the St. Louis epidemic of encephalitis and the recent outbreaks of poliomyelitis. Historically our concepts of epidemics may be grouped in two broad periods: (1) the descriptive period, when the natural history of epidemics was studied

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