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JAMA Revisited
February 19, 2019

Weather and Disease

JAMA. 2019;321(7):712. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.15209

Originally Published February 17, 1894 | JAMA. 1894;22(7):229.

A country physician with large practice, was deploring his inability, from constant work, to make original researches, or to read books, and expressed the opinion that no one with a large country ride could contribute much to the science of medicine. This is a common error which a little reflection will quickly disprove. As an illustration take the common theme of all conversation, the weather. The physician with long rides in the country, and time for observation and reflection, can be an expert and contribute facts in this field as important to science as those found in the laboratory and by the microscope. By the weather we mean the moisture, temperature, pressure, winds, clouds, ozone, electricity, sudden changes of heat and cold, storms and sunlight. From the earliest times these forces have been recognized as all-powerful in the production of disease. In our climate prolonged hot or cold periods very clearly affect the death rate, but how and to what extent is unknown. Certain diseases are retarded or accelerated by those forces. The unknown and psychic effect of the weather on all, both sick and well, are within the observation of everyone, and yet very little study has been made in this direction. The prayer book recognizes this fact, in petitions for favorable weather, and protection from lightning and sudden storms. Even the Pope has prepared a manual to be used by the clergy in bad or unfavorable weather.