Diseases on the Frontier

Time Frame: 1800's

In the 1800s sickness and death were common on the Iowa frontier. Cholera and malaria were common. Herbs and teas were used by pioneers to treat illnesses.
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“The Prairie Pioneers,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 4, Iowa Public Television, 1977.

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Most of the pioneers could count on the regular bout with malaria, or ague, as it was called. Most people thought it was caused by a poison vapor released by the freshly broken sod. No one suspected that it was caused by mosquitoes. Quinine was the common medicines for most aliments, along with the many herbs, teas and tonics that were imported or that grew wild on the prairie. Probably the most dread disease of all was cholera. In epidemic portions it struck down entire families spread with alarming speed.

Where ever it appears the wail of the dying is heard. The rich and the poor, the proud and the humble alike bow down to its fearful scepter. No one can consider himself entirely exempt from its blighting attack.

No one, especially the children.


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