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DIABETES: In 1915, eleven years before the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best in 1926, patients with diabetes could only be treated by diet and severe diabetics were condemned to a short lifetime on a very restricted and unpalatable diet before their inevitable fatal end.

This extract, from the "The Practitioner's Encyclopaedia of Medical Treatment", Published by Oxford Medical Publications, 1915, describes, in detail, the methods of treatment in the pre-insulin days.

MEDITERRANEAN, OR UNDULANT FEVER This extract, from the "The Practitioner's Encyclopaedia of Medical Treatment", published by Oxford Medical Publications, 1915, describes the aetiology, clinical features, diagnosis and the methods of treatment during WW1 of Meditarranean Fever, otherwise known as Undulant Fever or Malta Fever.

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TYPHOID FEVER This chapter on the contemporary diagnosis, treatment and management of typhoid is taken from Sir William Osler's famous textbook of medicine "The Principles and Practice of Medicine", Eighth Edition, Butterworth & Company, London and Appleton & Company, New York. 1916.

Da COSTA'S SYNDROME or "SOLDIER'S HEART" In 1874, J. M. Da Costa described a condition of "Strain or overaction of the heart". By WW1 it was recognised the the condition was not associated with any organic disease of the heart but it was still a recognised cardiac disorder as this extract from "Clinical Cardiology"by Selian Neuhof, published in 1917 by MacMillan, New York, describes.

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MILITARY SURGERY: The complete book, 'Military Surgery' by Dr Edmond Delorme. Published 1915 by H.K. Lewis, 136 Gower Street, London.

Débridement of Wounds Débridement, or the surgical excision of necrotic infected material from dirty or infected wounds, was first developed as a method of treatment in 1914. The text of Dr Milligan's article, "The Early Treatment of Projectile Wounds by Excision of Damaged Tissues"; BMJ., 26th June 1915 is quoted from the "Official History of Australian Army Medical Services, 1914-1918" Colonel A.C.Butler, Australian War Memorial, Vol II, pp326-327.

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We are indebted to Mr Neal O'Brien of Concord, Massachusetts for making this available.

CAMP SANITATION   Extracts from the 'Field Service Pocket Book', published by His Majesty's Stationery Office in 1914 for the instruction of British Army officers.

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VENEREOLOGY: Extracts from "The Practitioner's Encyclopaedia of Medical Treatment", Published by Oxford Medical Publications, 1915.

Venereal diseases were the cause of much debility and loss of manpower during WW1 (as they were in WW2). Salvarsan had been discovered in 1906 and was available for treatment of syphilis, although the older methods of treatment with mercury were still prescribed. Gonorrhoea was mainly treated by urethral washouts using medicated fluids, a treatment that was much detested and feared by the men, but was to continue until the use of Penicillin during the second world war.

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Chronic Alcoholism  An extract from Sir William Osler's "The Principles and Practice of Medicine", 8th Edition, 1917.

Traumatic Neurosesby Sir William Osler.  The chapter on Traumatic Neuroses from the 7th edition, 1916, of his book "The Principles and Practice of Medicine".

The Repression of War Experience by W.H.R. Rivers, MD.(Lond.), FRCP. (Lond), FRS., Late Medical Officer, Craiglockhart War Hospital. An Address to the Section of Psychiatry of the Royal Society of Medicine, published in the Lancet of February 2nd. 1917.

Shell Shock and its Lessons By Grafton Elliot Smith, MA. MD. FRCP. FRS and Tom Hatherley Pear BSc. Published by Manchester University Press, UK, 1917.

This book presents an insight into how mental disorders were managed during the Great War. It is divided into chapters on the Nature of Shellshock (The authors point out that the term "Shell shock" was a popular but inadequate title for all those mental effects of war experience which are sufficient to incapacitate a man from the performance of his military duties), Treatment, Psychological Analysis and Re-education, General Considerations of Psychiatric Illness and some of the Lessons learnt from the War.

The authors presents a sympathetic discussion of a group of conditions that were poorly understood and were often confused with malingering. It is of significance that many soldiers were actually court martialled and shot for cowardice, during the period when this book was published, even though they were obviously suffering from what we now know were severe anxiety states or post traumatic stress disorder.

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Medical Front WWI original author, Dr. Geoffrey Miller.
Maintained by
George Laughead, Jr., WWW-VL: United States History. Thanks to Dr. Lynn H. Nelson, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Kansas. Updated: 15 February 2007.
Site hosted at
WWW Virtual Libraries @ www.vlib.us.