A Health Team during an Anti-Typhus Campaign, Poland


During World War I and in the wars and upheavals that followed, the destruction of homes and public bathing facilities in Poland and the displacement of large populations led to widespread epidemics of typhus and other diseases. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a humanitarian organization created to aid Jews affected by the war and its aftermath, supported medical and sanitary work by existing regional organizations. In April 1920 the JDC sent American Doctor Harry Plotz, the discoverer of a typhus vaccine, to investigate the crisis conditions in Poland (including in regions currently part of Ukraine) and to develop a more comprehensive, systematic approach to preventing the spread of disease. Plotz brought a team of doctors, nurses and health inspectors and a mobile delousing machine, which heated clothing and blankets to very high temperatures. This photograph shows a team of medical professionals involved in the anti-typhus campaign. The photograph is from the archives of the JDC, which contain documents, photographs, film, video, oral histories, and artifacts recording the work of the organization from World War I to the present.

Last updated: March 17, 2016