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Chances are, if you were an American kid growing up in the ’80s or early ’90s, you lost someone to dysentery — as you were trying to make your way west in the historical video game “The Oregon Trail.” The game, one of the earliest educational computer games to reach wide distribution, simulated a 1848 covered-wagon trip from Missouri through the wild frontier of the western US.

But perhaps its most lasting lesson was the varied and exotic ways that your players could get sick. There were snakebites and coughs, broken arms, exhaustion, and infections.

Those who played the game became familiar with the many ways travelers along that historic route got sick — and died. But how much do you actually know about the diseases they suffered? Take this quiz to find out.


Hyacinth Empinado/STAT


Which of these Oregon Trail ailments can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and even amoebas?*

A cook named Mary Mallon famously spread which Oregon Trail disease in the early 1900s?*

Roger has a cold. Which of these was NOT a common treatment for coughs on the Oregon Trail?*

Which of these Oregon Trail illnesses spreads via air?*

This disease was more prevalent on the Great Plains but less so as settlers got into higher elevations.*

The US is currently seeing outbreaks of which of these Oregon Trail illnesses despite immunization efforts?*

Claire has measles. The measles virus is thought to have evolved from which of these viruses?*

Which Oregon Trail disease is NOT contagious?*

You have dysentery. Which medicine should you get from the general store?*

Everyone in your party has died. This disease was the most deadly of Oregon Trail infections.*
Hyacinth Empinado/STAT

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