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June 12, 1909


JAMA. 1909;LII(24):1930. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.02540500032006

Mortality from tuberculosis is said to be far higher among the Indians than among the whites or even among the negroes.1 It is generally believed, however, that there was no tuberculosis among the Indians previous to the coming of the white men. If it existed, it must have been exceedingly rare. Early histories of the aborigines describe such diseases as smallpox, cholera, filth diseases, insanity and rabies (from the bites of wolves and skunks), but say almost nothing of tuberculosis. As the whites came into contact with the Indians, this disease spread progressively from east to west.

The negative reason for the peculiar mortality from tuberculosis among the Indians is that this race, having come into contact with the disease very recently, has not had time to acquire immunity. For a similar reason, the negro race also has a high consumption mortality: it is very probable that there was