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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 5, 2003


Author Affiliations

November 7, 1903

JAMA. 1903;XLI(19):1148.

JAMA. 2003;290(17):2340. doi:10.1001/jama.290.17.2340-a

In its latest weekly bulletin the Chicago Health Department calls attention to the exaggerated statements that are sometimes made in regard to the prevalence of consumption, quoting one authority whose estimate would require 35 per cent increase over the figures shown in the last U.S. Census reports, notwithstanding the fact that there has been a steady decrease all these years in the mortality from phthisis. This is only one instance of the exaggeration in which good men allow themselves occasionally to indulge when speaking of a subject in which they are strongly interested. Consumption is a scourge, but it does not follow that its evils should be overstated. A review of the consumption mortality in Chicago during the last half of the nineteenth century shows a decrease of over 40 per cent in the ratio of mortality, at the same time that there is a 53 per cent increase in the mortality from pneumonia since the beginning of the last decade of the nineteenth century. During the past few years the pneumonia mortality—though its excess is largely confined to about seven months of the year—has annually exceeded the total of deaths from consumption and there is a continued increase percentage of deaths from this cause. We can not credit the whole of this, as THE JOURNAL has long ago pointed out, to influenzal infection which has been rampant during the past ten or eleven years. We have other problems, therefore, beside that of consumption and which at present seem even more serious.