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September 19, 1908


JAMA. 1908;LI(12):1016. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02540120060006

When one reads of the fearful epidemic of plague of the fourteenth century, which carried off half the population, not only of many Asiatic nations, but also of the principal countries of Europe, that practically wiped out cities, that disrupted social conditions and shattered existing institutions—one is likely to say, contentedly, that this happened in the dark ages, that it could not occur in the enlightened twentieth century. So, doubtless, thought the people of India, where for 200 years no plague existed. But in 1896 they had a terrible awakening, and since that date India has lost by plague over five and a half millions of people. According to Asst. Surgeon-General Eager1 of the U. S. Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service, there were 1,400,000 cases with 1,200,000 deaths in India last year.

The figures are appalling, and, while they apply to Asiatic countries and while the disease seems to