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Silent VictoriesThe History and Practice of Public Health in Twentieth Century America$
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John W. Ward and Christian Warren

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195150698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150698.001.0001

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Control of Infectious Diseases: A Twentieth-Century Public Health Achievement

Control of Infectious Diseases: A Twentieth-Century Public Health Achievement

(p.3) 1 Control of Infectious Diseases: A Twentieth-Century Public Health Achievement
Silent Victories

Alexandra M. Levitt

D. Peter Drotman

Stephen Ostroff

Oxford University Press

The marked decline in infectious-disease-associated mortality that took place in the United States during the first half of the 20th century contributed to the sharp drop in infant and child mortality and the more than thirty-year average increase in life expectancy over the past 100 years. The 19th-century discovery that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases led to substantial improvements in sanitation and hygiene, formulations of vaccinations, development of diagnostic tests, and the introduction of antibiotics. Despite this overall progress, devastating pandemics of infectious diseases occurred during the 20th century including the influenza in 1918 and human immunodeficiency virus first recognized in 1981. This chapter reviews major 20th-century achievements in the control of infectious diseases in the United States and ends with a discussion of challenges for the 21st century.

Keywords:   public health, 20th century, pandemic, infectious diseases, immunization, sanitation, diagnostics tests, antibiotics, life expectancy, influenza

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