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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 and others 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.

This week, the podcast returns to a conversation with medical historian Jonathan S. Jones about the epidemics of the Civil War and the lessons learned that we’re revisiting more than 150 years later.


“The main killer in the Civil War was not bullets or amputations — the things that pop out when when we see war movies, for example — but rather it was diseases that killed the majority of people,” Jones said.

The conversation stems from Jones’s First Opinion, “Lessons learned — and forgotten — from the horrific epidemics of the U.S. Civil War.

Be sure to sign up for the weekly “First Opinion Podcast” on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.


And if you have any feedback for us — First Opinion authors to feature on the podcast, vocal mannerisms the host needs to jettison, kudos or darts — email us at [email protected] and please put “podcast” in the subject line.

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