Body Horrors -- "Blood Money: Hookworm Economics in the Postbellum South"

Lady Jane, April 9 2012

Hookworm Prevalence, 1900Hookworm Prevalence, c. 1900 (click for source)

Since it was first imported, inadvertently, from the African continent, hookworm had been a serious health issue in the American South. The consequences of infection from this parasite include anemia, weight loss, and impaired mental functioning. In 1910, the Rockefeller Commission investigated this condition and laid out a well-funded plan for combating it.

Body Horrors examines the history of this program as well as its salubrious effects. Infection rates dropped, income increased, and public health improved. The changes were most dramatic in those places which had suffered most heavily from the hookworm epidemic.

The effect of this improvement on the general health and economy of the south is not to be underestimated, for the Commission found in its initial investigation that 40% of schoolchildren were infected in some states.

**Body Horrors is a blog dedicated to the study of infectious diseases, and their impact on society.

Spread the Word

comments powered by Disqus