History indicates that bacillary dysentery is almost as old as war itself. It is said that dysentery decimated the army of Napoleon in its retreat from Moscow. Though no accurate figures are available from the Revolutionary War, there were 285,000 cases of dysentery in the federal army alone during the Civil War.
In World War I bacillary dysentery was the most important disease in the British armies in the Eastern Mediterranean area and at Gallipoli was responsible for almost 100,000 casualties. Many writers have claimed that dysentery was more important than the Turks in driving the British troops out of this area.
According to the Surgeon General's report of 1917-1918, 87,700 cases of dysentery and common diarrhea occurred among the American troops in World War I.1 The average time lost from duty was eleven days in each case. The admission rate in 1917-1918 was 18.45 per thousand, while for
PAINTON JF, HANTMAN S. AN OUTBREAK OF SONNE DYSENTERY. JAMA. 1945;128(16):1152–1155. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860330020005
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