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infectious diseases

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Editor’s Note: Stephen Fried is a journalist and bestselling historian. Read more >>

Toward the end of World War I, American doctors fought an invisible enemy on the home front — a pandemic that would kill more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history.

Editor's Note: John Barry is the author of The Great Influenza: The Epic Read more >>

A murderous disease was ravaging the south in 1914. Then one brave and determined doctor discovered the cure — and nobody believed him.

Polio’s legacy to those who survived it includes uncommon stamina and courage—and one grim new joke

Some years ago I traveled to Boston to meet for the first time the filmmaker Henry Hampton, who had just completed the magisterial “Eyes on the Prize” series for PBS. Read more >>

The emergence of AIDS has added new urgency to the work of an organization that turns eighty this year

It is not exactly a historical secret that sex is here to stay. But it is only in relatively recent times in this country that sexual behavior has been so openly described, depicted, and debated in the public forum. Read more >>

Mary Mallon could do one thing very well, and all she wanted was to be left to it

Longfellow notwithstanding, precious few of us leave footprints in the sands of time. Read more >>

American medicine in a crucial era was at once surprisingly similar and shockingly different from what we know today. You could get aspirin at the drugstore, and anesthesia during surgery. But you could also buy opium over the counter, and the surgery would be more likely to be performed in your kitchen than in a hospital.

IN 1884 ALMOST three-quarters of America’s fifty million people lived on farms or in rural hamlets. Read more >>

Why did people fall mortally ill wherever she worked? Typhoid Mary was not about to help the inspector find out

On August 27, 1906, the daughter of Charles Henry Warren, a New York banker, fell sick at the family’s rented summer house in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Read more >>

The causes of the cholera epidemic of 1832 were wholly incomprehensible to the people of the time.

It would of course be comforting to think that this moral obtuseness was peculiar to Englishmen. It seems, however, to have been prevalent in America as well, and the cholera epidemics of the last century bring the thing into focus. Read more >>

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