Posted by: elambend | October 28, 2008

The Importance of Military Hygiene

Or, Something I did not know this morning:

“Russian combat casualties in the conflict [in Afghanistan] were quite low-under 3percent-but the Soviet army suffered horrendous rates of illness, especially infectious illness.  Three out of four soldiers who fought in Afghanistan – 75 to 76 percent of the entire Soviet army in the country-had to be hospitalized for disease.  Some soldiers were stricken by bubonic plague, but malaria, cholera, diphtheria, infectious dysentery, amoebic dysentery, hepatitis, and typhus were, if anything, more common….According to the [US Army] report, one important factor was military hygiene.  The average Russian soldier changed his underwear once every three months, washed his uniform and blankets at about the same rate, drank untreated water, left his garbage unpicked up, defecated near his tent rather than at a field latrine, and, even when involved in kitchen work, only washed his hands after a bowel movement when an officer made him.”
p. 75 of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, by John Kelly


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