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May 19, 1945


JAMA. 1945;128(3):185-188. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.92860200003008

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The war in Europe is apparently drawing to a close. During the more than five years of destruction and privation accompanied by forcible or voluntary displacement of a large fraction of a populous continent's inhabitants there has been no pandemic of first magnitude. Gratifying though this is, the fact must not be taken to mean that the epidemic situation is as satisfactory as it was before the war, nor as indicating a favorable outlook for the first years of transition to stable peace. The absence of real disasters may be traced to the low endemic level of most diseases during the years preceding the war in conjunction with the advance of preventive medicine and the application on a large scale of its principles. On the other hand, caution against over optimism is dictated by the disastrous aftermath of World War I.

During the four years of World War I Europe witnessed a rise of the endemic level of infectious diseases, and there were various pestilential outbreaks, such as that of cholera in Galicia in 1915, which caused over 17,000 deaths. A devastating typhus epidemic broke out in Siberia in 1915, causing

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