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MILITARY HISTORY - REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 50-54

War and epidemics: A chronicle of infectious diseases


1 Research Scholar, School of Public Health, ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Senior Staff Officer (Health), HQWNC, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Surg Cdr Kaushik Roy
607B, KG Signature City, Near MGR Boys Hostel, Adayalampattu Village, Maduravoyal, Chennai - 600 095, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jmms.jmms_34_18

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Disease transmission occurs with a perfect balance of the epidemiological triad consisting of an external agent, a susceptible host, and an environment that brings the agent and host together. Conflict situation is an ideal platform that creates this confluence of agent and host in perfect environmental conditions, for pathogens to tear through soldiers and refugees alike. Classically during armed conflicts, soldiers and displaced population get exposed to unsanitary and overcrowded barracks, trenches, refugee shelters, and concentration camps with disruptive health-care services. Many get susceptible to diseases prevalent in the relocated region and some may introduce pathogens in the native population. The earlier wartime epidemics were considered as divine interventions and wrath of God. As medicinal knowledge advanced, prevention strategies evolved from isolation and quarantine to sanitary measures against miasma and further to chemoprophylaxis and immunization against the pathogen. The advent of antivector chemicals and antibiotics revolutionized the control of epidemics during the World War II. Although not infectious in origin, modern-day outbreaks are mostly health events such as posttraumatic stress disorders in postwar or war-like scenario. This article chronicles the epidemiology of the better-known wartime epidemics.


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