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January 7, 1933


JAMA. 1933;100(1):44-45. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740010046013

In a recent presidential address before the Institute of Medicine of Chicago, E. O. Jordan1 defined three approaches that have been utilized in studying the infectious diseases: clinical, pathologic and bacteriologic. A fourth approach, viewing each disease as a whole, "biologically, as a mass phenomenon," is the epidemiologic method. Diphtheria, tuberculosis and food poisoning were cited as examples for the development of his thesis.

Diphtheria, Dr. Jordan points out, has always been subject to cyclic fluctuations, being unimportant in the early half of the nineteenth century in Europe but becoming widespread between 1850 and 1860, so that Hirsch2 characterized it as "a new phenomenon in the history of pestilence." A decline set in about 1870 and continued through the rest of the century, during the last decade of which the discovery of antitoxin was made by von Behring and Roux. Jordan holds that comparison of death rates for