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Adam Rodman, MD, MPH, FACPHistory

Episode Summary

In the early 19th century, a strange new illness, seemingly unknown to medicine, ravaged settler communities in the American Middle West. As fierce debates about this new disease, now called milk sickness, raged – was it from toxic swamp gasses? arsenic in the soil? infectious microorganisms? from the poor constitutions of the settlers – an irregular medicine woman named Dr. Anna and an indigenous Shawnee healer discovered the cause of the disease and successfully prevented it in their community. But their discovery went unheeded for over a half century. This is a live podcast that I gave to the South Dakota chapter of the American College of Physicians – plus a new Stethospeaks with Dr. Umme H. Faisal on the history of Resusci-Annie’s mysteriously serene face!   Teepublic store: https://www.teepublic.com/stores/bedsiderounds   Sources: DOYLE JT. Milk sickness. N C Med J. 1947 Jul;8(7):404-10. PMID: 20250350. Furbee L, Snively WD Jr. Milk sickness, 1811-1966: a bibliography. J Hist Med Allied Sci. 1968 Jul;23(3):276-85. doi: 10.1093/jhmas/xxiii.3.276. PMID: 4875594. HARTMANN AF Sr, HARTMANN AF Jr, PURKERSON ML, WESLEY ME. Tremetol poisoning--not yet extinct. JAMA. 1963 Aug 31;185:706-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.1963.03060090038014. PMID: 13953145. Niederhofer RE. The milk sickness. Drake on medical interpretation. JAMA. 1985 Oct 18;254(15):2123-5. PMID: 3900448. Pickard ME and Buley RC, The Midwest Pioneer; His Ills, Cures, & Doctors. 1945. Snively WD Jr, Furbee L. Discoverer of the cause of milk sickness (Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby). JAMA. 1966 Jun 20;196(12):1055-60. PMID: 5327806. Stenn F. Pioneer History of Milk Sickness. Ann Med Hist. 1937 Jan;9(1):23-29. PMID: 33943945; PMCID: PMC7942921. Townsend RB. Milk sickness- a plague on the new west. Scalpel Tongs. 1999 Jan-Feb;43(1):13-5. PMID: 11623628. Walker JW. Milk-sickness. Science. 1886 Dec 10;8(201):540. doi: 10.1126/science.ns-8.201.540. PMID: 17741312.
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