In this episode of the “First Opinion Podcast,” medical historian Jonathan S. Jones explains the deadly and disfiguring diseases of the American Civil War and the important public health lessons we can still learn from them. Diseases like smallpox, measles, and dysentery killed two-thirds of the 1 million people who died in the Civil War. “Chronic diarrhea” and the stigma of smallpox scars plagued soldiers for decades afterward. And while Americans no longer depend on digging ditches for latrines, we’re still struggling with faith in national public health measures, racial disparities in health care, and more.
The conversation was based on Jones’s recent First Opinion, “Lessons learned — and forgotten — from the horrific epidemics of the U.S. Civil War.”
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