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July 17, 1943


JAMA. 1943;122(12):810-811. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840290030010

The Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932 considered bacterial warfare serious enough to prohibit its use. This action contributed to the popular fear of pathogenic micro-organisms as effective military weapons. To allay this fear come two timely reprintings of the classic paper by Col. Leon A. Fox1 of the U. S. Army Medical Corps, which summarize the current opinion of military experts.

Threatened introduction of new weapons or methods of warfare has often had to overcome opposition based on ethical, religious or humanitarian grounds. The early use of gun powder had to overcome opposition of this type. Military history, however, teaches that a weapon has never been abandoned for such reasons unless displaced by more effective weapons or until adequate countermeasures have been developed. Military history also reveals that epidemics were often the determining factor in past wars. In many campaigns contagious diseases caused such great loss of life and