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Health Aff (Millwood). 2009 Nov-Dec;28(6):1734-44. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.28.6.1734.

How four once common diseases were eliminated from the American South.

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History of Medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA.


Four major diseases stigmatized the American South in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: yellow fever, malaria, hookworm, and pellagra. Each disease contributed to the inhibition of economic growth in the South, and the latter three severely affected children's development and adult workers' productivity. However, all four had largely disappeared from the region by 1950. This paper analyzes the reasons for this disappearance. It describes the direct effects of public health interventions and the indirect effects of prosperity and other facets of economic development. It also offers insights into the invaluable benefits that could be gained if today's neglected diseases were also eliminated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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