Hall 5 - BOARD 12


The fact that the white louse (Pediculus humanis corporis) are carriers of typhus fever was discovered by French doctor Nicole with his associates no sooner than 1909, but at the beginning of the Great War, these findings had not yet been unreservedly accepted in science, nor were they widely known. In addition, partly due to an insufficient number of doctors, and partly due to inexperience of the Serbian Medical Corps with the disease, the nature of the epidemics was not immediately determined and typhus was often treated as typhoid fever or as recurrence. With confirmation of the disease, knowing its causes and its carriers, the awareness arose that for combating the epidemics treatment for patients is not sufficient, but it was necessary to employ extensive preventive activities. They were implemented since the beginning of 1915, but the full effect could only be seen in March, when British epidemiological mission arrived in Serbia and, with the full support of military and civil authorities, recommended and organized complex preventive activities.

Measures that the government, town administrations and hospital directors should adopt in order to prevent the spread of typhus and recurrence:

- Mandatory registration, isolation and depediculation in hospitals;
- In towns and villages system of registration to be performed through the head of the family;
- Personal cleanliness of patients and the destruction of insects in their underwear, clothing and bedding;
- Accommodation of the ill in hospitals where possible;
- Personal information and activity of every person to fight the disease; - Informing the public through posters and newspapers;
- The formation of public disinsection posts;
- The formation of a special medical train for disinfection and vaccinations Production and distribution of steam disinsection barrels


Strict implementation of "Measures that the government, town administrations and hospital directors should adopt in order to prevent the spread of typhus and recurrence," spurred by favorable weather conditions in the beginning of spring, led to a rapid end of the epidemics. No later than May 1915, the epidemics was supressed in Valjevo, and by June in other parts of Serbia.

In Valjevo the French Medical Mission worked led by meritorious researchers and experts on typhus, Konsep. However, the mission worked without contact with the Serbian population and therefore could only perform hospital activities. And I, maybe because I was alone, I had to rely on the energy of the local people. I asked for a meeting of doctors to be held and gave a lecture on spotted fever. (...) These facts were unknown to Serbian doctors. (...) We decided to accept the assignment: grab the monster of the epidemics by the head and conduct disinfection of the entire town. I requested the adequate quantities of sulfur and together with the local doctors I disinfected literally all the apartments and all the objects. (...) Serbian doctors, with superhuman efforts, without resources and aid, began to organize, or rather to improvise apparatus for dry disinfestation which was more effective than all foreign missions together.
From the recollections of Dr Ludwig Hirszfeld