MILITARY COMMANDERS with a sense of history are aware that disease can decimate their troops far more efficiently than virtually any enemy weapon. That specter, epidemic disease raging uncontrolled, became the springboard for the formation, in 1940, of what is known today as the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board.
This year, as the board celebrates its 50th birthday, it is evident that the results achieved by these civilian advisers have extended far beyond the uniformed services. "The impact of some research that the board recommended and the military implemented is beyond measure," says Theodore E. Woodward, MD, University of Maryland, Baltimore, the current president.
The board's founders, BG James S. Simmons, MC, USA, and COL Stanhope Bayne-Jones, MC, USA, were aware of the millions of deaths caused by influenza and pneumonia during World War I, Woodward says. They created the Board for the Control of Influenza and Epidemic Diseases.