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November 3, 1945

Current Comment

JAMA. 1945;129(10):679-680. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860440027012

DIPHTHERIA CAN BE ELIMINATED  In 1943 the death rate from diphtheria at all ages fell below 1 per hundred thousand for the first time.1 At the same time the death rate in children under 10, in whom the disease is most frequent, has fallen below 5 per hundred thousand. Wide variation in the size of the diphtheria rates among children occurs, however, in different states: using the average figures for 1940-1942, Delaware without any deaths from diphtheria under 10 during these three years appeared at one extreme and, at the other, Arkansas and South Carolina with 13.7 deaths per hundred thousand and Oklahoma with a rate of 13.5. The available methods for control of diphtheria are sufficient to allow the complete elimination of this disease in the United States. An analysis of fatalities among children insured in a large life insurance company indicated that two factors were principally involved: delay