Military Review

Victory over an invisible enemy. Epidemiology of the Great Patriotic War

Victory over an invisible enemy. Epidemiology of the Great Patriotic War

Mass epidemics from time immemorial have been the constant companions of almost all major military conflicts. Often the diseases that accompanied the war gathered a more abundant harvest of deaths than the actual fighting, at least among the civilian population. During World War I, it was precisely so: the pandemic that erupted in 1918 killed more people than all bullets, shells and mines combined.

Nevertheless, the Great Patriotic War, with all its colossal scope and the enormous destruction that it brought to our land, was not marked by outbreaks of really massive, mass sicknesses both at the front and behind the rear of the Red Army. Naturally, this was not and could not be any luck or something like that. The low incidence rates of Soviet soldiers and home front workers were enormous work of physicians - military and civilian, as well as a clear and impeccable organization of their activities at the national level.

War is first and foremost death. Moreover, the mass deaths of people who often remain unburied for a long time properly. This is the destruction of infrastructure, the accession of terrifying unsanitary conditions, the lack of normal, and often even any kind of medical care. War brings with it hunger, cold, lack of medicines and preventive measures. It would seem that outbreaks of illness during it are simply inevitable, and their victims remain to be written off in the “inevitable losses” column. That's just the leadership of the Soviet Union did not think so before the Great Patriotic War, or after it began, no matter how unexpected and difficult it may be.

Those who today are trying to represent the then leaders of the party, country, and Red Army as near-minded and heartless cannibals who thoughtlessly threw millions of Soviet people to death can not be called other than liars, such as the world has never seen. Having barely recovered from the first, most terrible months of the war, having defended Moscow, they took on the problem of preventing epidemics in the most serious way. On February 2, 1942, a special resolution of the People’s Health Commissariat "On measures to prevent epidemic diseases in the country and the Red Army" came into force.

This document set specific tasks to ensure the health of both the Red Army and those who remained in the rear. The necessary contingents of epidemiologists, bacteriologists, and sanitary doctors were distributed throughout the country. To whom, where and in what quantities to serve, they decided on the basis of how complicated the epidemic situation in a particular region was. The first step was a general vaccination (or, as they wrote then, immunization) of the population against the main satellites of military warfare - acute intestinal infections. We started with the distribution of large settlements that represented a particular danger, and then we reached each one.

Great attention was paid to ensuring timely diagnosis and immediate hospitalization of those patients whose illness could be especially contagious, to give an outbreak to the epidemic. To carry out this difficult task in wartime, mobile epidemiological units were created at each district health department and epidemiological department. Their task was not only the identification of patients, but also the most thorough conduct of proper, and, most importantly, quick sanitary treatment of people, their clothes and property, who were in a potential focus of infection. At the same time, despite the fact that the country worked day and night in the “Everything for the front, everything for victory!” Regime, all the necessary equipment, reagents, and, of course, protective equipment, the medical fighters of these flying detachments were fully provided .

A particular headache for the military and civilian leadership of the country was the flow of people who rushed from the occupied or threatening to be under the Nazi occupation of the regions to evacuate. People fell ill (happened, and died) right along the way, at the same time risking creating, again, foci of the spread of infectious diseases that could well have come across mass epidemics. It is in connection with this that special attention was paid to the control of the presence of infectious diseases at all major railway stations, at various routes and stages of mass evacuation.

To say that the vigorous and comprehensive measures taken in 1942 were extremely effective would be to say nothing. The struggling USSR with the invasion of the Nazi horde of the USSR showed incredibly low rates of infectious diseases even during this difficult period of the war. It would seem that cholera, dysentery, malaria, and typhoid fever should have been rampant in the country. However, only rare, isolated cases of these diseases were recorded. By the beginning of 1943, only 3% of the infectious diseases registered in the army were brought to the front from the rear. And in 1944, this figure was at all 1,2%. The invisible but deadly enemy that threatened the Soviet people was stopped and almost defeated.

Perhaps it would be wrong in this story not to mention at least one name out of hundreds of thousands of ascetic doctors whose efforts have achieved such brilliant results, not to give a concrete example of their heroic work. As such, the feat of Professor Zinaida Ermolyeva, who saved from the inevitable, seemingly outbreak of cholera of the defenders and residents of the heroic Stalingrad, may well serve. By the autumn of 1941, more than 200 trains with evacuated arrived, more than 70 trains with children from Leningrad and other regions arrived in the city. The already considerable population of the city doubled in comparison with the pre-war period. Hospitals, military units, institutions and just ordinary residents - about 800 thousand people gathered in the city on the Volga.

It was impossible, in principle, to provide the necessary sanitary and hygienic conditions for all this mass of people. It seemed that an epidemic of cholera or typhoid (and, most likely, both at once) was inevitable. The question was so acute that the Supreme Commander took it under special control. And, as usual, he provided a brilliant solution to the problem, first of all, having seconded the best cadres who, as he knew, would solve everything. Stalin personally instructed Ermolieva to lead a group of scientists and doctors thrown on the cholera "front". The main means of preventing the epidemic was, of course, the universal vaccination of all residents of the city and the refugees accumulated there from cholera, combined with the largest possible disinfection work. There is no doubt - that is exactly how Yermolyeva originally planned to act.

The plan was adjusted by Hitler’s bombs, which hit a train coming up to the city with cholera serum and disinfectants. Goering vultures simply adored bombing trains with red crosses ... The enemies didn’t take into account one thing - the character and efficiency of Ermolyeva. Ermolyeva, a professor, a talented scientist, the creator of a number of anti-infective drugs (the experiments with which she put most often on herself), managed to organize a laboratory for the production of serum right in the basement of one of the houses that was shaken from the bombing and shelling of the city!

50 thousand people were vaccinated daily, which was unprecedented in scale at that time. Cholera Stalingrad never took. As, however, and the Nazis.

Received for the heroic work to prevent this and other epidemics, the Stalin Prize Zinaida Yermolyeva transferred to the Defense Fund. The fighter built on this money proudly carried her name on board.

War is always war. However, during the years of the Great Patriotic War there was no threat that would not have retreated before the staunchness, courage, and love for the Soviet people.
Photos used:
Wikipedia / Zinaida Ermolyeva
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  1. andrewkor
    andrewkor April 3 2020 06: 56 New
    "Yes, there were people in our time! ...." Such monuments should be erected!
    1. Insurgent
      Insurgent April 3 2020 07: 14 New
      Quote: andrewkor
      "Yes, there were people in our time! ...." Such monuments should be erected!

      And draw strength, experience, inspiration.

      These were real people of science, those who are now despicably and hypocritically substituted for Chubais with various "invest" and "nano".
    2. Bar1
      Bar1 April 3 2020 08: 18 New
      the discoverer of penicillin is believed to be Fleming, but what did Fleming discover? Probably all soldiers of all armies knew that mold heals wounds and how they could use it.
      Fleming was able to isolate a concentrated liquid substance containing the substance penecilin. In order to use this substance, it must be prepared before use and immediately applied i.e. administered to the patient because the substance did not last long.
      But Ermoliev was able to get exactly the concentrate of the substance in DRY pure form i.e. the substance could be stored for a long time. The doses of the substance used by Ermolieva were smaller and worked more efficiently than the liquid ones of Fleming, could be calculated for use. In fact, it was Ermolieva who discovered the substance penicillin and named it KRUSTAZIN i.e. CRYSTALS. This was the first antibiotic.
      After that, they began to use dry penicillin-krustazin in the world, according to the method of Ermolyeva, and not Fleming. But he discovered the laurels of the discoverer and our liberoid media forget to mention Ermolyeva in their articles and programs.
      In general, see the movie Open Book.
    3. Aaron Zawi
      Aaron Zawi April 3 2020 09: 15 New
      One of my grandmothers, Aleksandra Markovna Horovich, was an epidemiologist at an army hospital. A modest position, modest rewards, but only today I understand what she did with her comrades.
    4. Bar1
      Bar1 April 3 2020 23: 17 New
      by the way on the topic, that would be remembered. And who discovered the first virus? This is the Russian botanist Ivanovsky D.I. in 1892.

      he also introduced the terms Ivanovsky crystals and the filtering virus.
  2. Dmitry Potapov
    Dmitry Potapov April 3 2020 06: 59 New
    Thank you author!
  3. Far B
    Far B April 3 2020 07: 00 New
    Yes, and in besieged Leningrad, with its depleted inhabitants, whose immunity was practically zero, there were no epidemics, which is why the Germans themselves went awry a lot. But the occupiers themselves were ruffled by tularemia, becoming one of the reasons for the Stalingrad defeat.
    1. Brylevsky
      Brylevsky April 3 2020 07: 20 New
      But the occupiers themselves were ruffled by tularemia, becoming one of the reasons for the Stalingrad defeat.

      There is a book, I don’t remember the author, it is called: "Caution, biological weapons." Its author is a military scientist who was engaged in the creation of chemical warfare agents based on bacteria and viruses. In one of the chapters of the book, he says that the outbreak of tularemia among German soldiers was not accidental. A lot of other things are described in the book, from which then the hair becomes on end ... but for what I bought, for that I sell.
      1. Evgeny Fedorov
        Evgeny Fedorov April 3 2020 07: 43 New
        The author of the book is Kanatzhan Alibekov. This is a biologist who escaped to the United States, allegedly engaged in the development of a bio-weapon in the Union. He worked in the office ,, Biological product ,,. Then, from the USA, pasquili wrote about what were bad in the Union and fluffy in the States. Unpleasant type ...
        1. Brylevsky
          Brylevsky April 3 2020 07: 52 New
          The author of the book is Kanatzhan Alibekov. This is a biologist who escaped to the United States, allegedly engaged in the development of a bio-weapon in the Union.

          Nevertheless, it was thanks to this author that I learned about the existence of a biological weapons industry in our country. He explained the production processes to non-specialists; It seems that he told about the accident in Sverdlovsk, but I knew nothing about it; and in general the topic was widely covered. Well, I ran over ... something told someone there ... he was not the first, he was not the last. His personal qualities interest me little; he knows the subject matter well.
          1. Evgeny Fedorov
            Evgeny Fedorov April 3 2020 08: 01 New
            In this case, I will recommend another book by Lev Fedorov. This one also knows how to educate
          2. 3x3zsave
            3x3zsave April 3 2020 09: 18 New
            Well, I ran over ... something told someone there ... he was not the first, he was not the last.
            Meanwhile, K. Alibekov gave an oath and a bunch of "nondisclosure" signatures. Accordingly, his activities in the United States are quite comparable to those of Rezun.
            1. Trilobite Master
              Trilobite Master April 3 2020 12: 28 New
              Quote: 3x3zsave
              quite comparable with the activities of Rezun.

              Perhaps a completely correct comparison.
              I remember that we discussed this topic a year ago in the comments to an article about the same Ermolina or another from the same series, which we were pleased with then Evgeny Fedorov. By the way, good articles, today's author has a lot to learn.
          3. Campanella
            Campanella April 3 2020 12: 25 New
            You think the industry was only ours? And where did the US run that rope there was nothing?
  4. Gardamir
    Gardamir April 3 2020 07: 03 New
    Everything is relative. Now, after 20 years of optimizing medicine, you go around and look around to see if the virus is chasing from behind.
    1. Insurgent
      Insurgent April 3 2020 07: 25 New
      Quote: Gardamir
      Now after 20 years of optimizing medicine, you go around and look around to see if the virus is chasing behind

      Anyway, despite the "optimization", it will be like this:

    2. DMB 75
      DMB 75 April 3 2020 12: 03 New
      Yes, now they would quickly deal with the pandemic, I am sure. Thank you for the article, a low bow to the Veterans.
  5. svp67
    svp67 April 3 2020 07: 13 New
    The feat of epidemiologists in that war has not been fully disclosed, but even what the author said already causes great respect for the work of these people. Lacking modern medicines and means, they fought against the terrible "infection" and won, although of course this struggle was not complete without losses on their part. The elimination of the tularemia outbreak in 42 at the front, the fight against typhus from the camps of German prisoners of war captured at Stalingrad ... these are their battles won.
    Thanks to them for their work.
  6. Free wind
    Free wind April 3 2020 07: 35 New
    I wonder what it is written about. Disinfection of course was carried out, carbolic acid, bleach. But cholera could not come from Leningrad, it historically from Asia only reached Astrakhan, more precisely a little higher along the Volga. Cholera vaccines were just beginning to be developed at that time, and now they do not really help, and they have a maximum duration of up to six months. Treatment with antibiotics, bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids, as you know, there were no antibiotics. Typhoid vaccine was not treated - bed rest. the drink itself will survive. Dysentery, treatment-vodka, antibiotics have not yet been. .
    1. Brylevsky
      Brylevsky April 3 2020 07: 57 New
      there were no antibiotics yet. .

      Are you sure that during the Great Patriotic War in the Red Army there were no antibiotics? But what about penicillin? Penicillin is an antibiotic. And penicillin was already there at that time.
      1. mat-vey
        mat-vey April 3 2020 10: 09 New
        Quote: Brylevsky
        Are you sure that during the Great Patriotic War in the Red Army there were no antibiotics?

        The most massive was streptocid, it seems ...
        1. Free wind
          Free wind April 3 2020 11: 14 New
          You can well with streptocidum ... well, sprinkle your navel wink . it is an antiseptic.
          1. mat-vey
            mat-vey April 3 2020 11: 18 New
            Or treat the back of a fur-burning water, or open wounds even after surgery .... This is an antibacterial drug ..
            Antibiotics (from other Greek: ἀντί “against” + βίος “life”) are drugs used to treat bacterial infections ..
      2. Free wind
        Free wind April 3 2020 10: 25 New
        Remember the battle of STALINGRAD when it was, and penicillin began to be delivered by Lend-Lease in 1944, well, 2 years later, many people were saved from it with gangrene.
    2. Olgovich
      Olgovich April 3 2020 08: 06 New
      Quote: Free Wind
      Typhoid fever there was no vaccine treatment - bed rest. the drink itself will survive.

      The vaccine does not cure, but creates immunity to the disease

      And such a vaccine was, it developed Alexey Vasilievich Pshenichnov and in 1942 it was introduced.
      The widespread use of the vaccine prevented the epidemic of typhoid in the army and in the rear during the Great Patriotic War.
      1. 3x3zsave
        3x3zsave April 3 2020 08: 36 New
        Andrei hi
        Vaccination is the introduction of ready-made antibodies to the body, that is, treatment. And what you described is the vaccination of weakened pathogens of the infection, in order to develop immunity (antibodies) by the body itself.
        1. mat-vey
          mat-vey April 3 2020 10: 13 New
          Quote: 3x3zsave
          Vaccination is the introduction of ready-made antibodies to the body, that is, treatment.

          A vaccine (from the Latin. Vaccina - “cow” [1]) is a medical preparation of biological origin, which provides the body with activation of acquired immunity to a specific disease. The vaccine usually contains an agent that resembles a disease causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it and further recognize and destroy any microorganisms associated with this agent that it may encounter in the future.

          Serum is an antibody preparation that is obtained from the blood serum of animals already immunized with the appropriate vaccine. Those. this is passive immunization.
        2. Olgovich
          Olgovich April 3 2020 10: 51 New
          Quote: 3x3zsave
          Vaccination is the introduction of ready-made antibodies to the body, it eatsl treatment.

          Anton, hello! hi
          You cannot treat what is STILL NOT available in a person (i.e. illness).
          The vaccine is its PREVENTION, it is entered healthy man
          1. 3x3zsave
            3x3zsave April 3 2020 18: 12 New
            I agree. Confused in terms.
      2. Free wind
        Free wind April 3 2020 11: 08 New
        Sorry, we're talking about different things. I wrote about typhoid fever. And you wrote about typhus, but you also read the article, there is generally off-topic and generally do not understand what. Now I just realized, having rummaged on the Internet, that these are different diseases. From 1917 to 40, more than 3 million people died from typhus, and it is transmitted only through lice, clothes, hair, well, it happens from ....... interesting lice. Then it became clear to me why the check for lice was carried out so carefully. Homeless children were immediately cut naked, their clothes were heat-treated or burned. The schoolchildren walked around with their hair shaved. Throughout the country and in the army, during the war, a network of stations for heat treatment of clothes was deployed, among the common people there were "lousies". the soldiers were examined by the nurses, and they themselves tried to follow this, as they had been warned. And it started at Stalingrad. And thanks to Ermolyeva. And the vaccination was probably for especially problematic groups, I don't think there was a lot of vaccines. Therefore, after reading the article I thought that something is wrong here. And now I understood that it was not at all right. It was from typhus that they saved Stalingrad, and not from cholera.
        1. Trilobite Master
          Trilobite Master April 3 2020 12: 08 New
          Quote: Free Wind
          It was from TYPE TYPE that they saved Stalingrad, and not from cholera.

          Ermolina was a cholera specialist. According to typhus, Pshenichnov was the main specialist.
          1. Free wind
            Free wind April 3 2020 12: 33 New
            Yes, I don’t argue, but that’s why during the epidemic in Astrakhan in 1970, then the region was closed for a month in August, is it recommended to drink hydrochloric acid solutions for prevention? No vaccines were out of the question. Solutions at home were carried by nurses, taught how to prepare it. Or vinegar solutions. And doctors were sent from all over the union.
      3. Vladimir_2U
        Vladimir_2U April 3 2020 14: 01 New
        How so, where is Olgovich's howl about the "bloody inadequate" Bolsheviks who "killed" the science of the Russian Empire? There is no howling, maybe because if you compare it with the splendor "with a little girl" then the picture will be very unpleasant:
        During the war in Russia, cholera epidemics were recorded annually. In 1914, cases of diseases occurred in 15 provinces, and the number of cases, according to official figures, was 1800 people. In 1915, epidemics and individual outbreaks were noted in 53 provinces and regions of Russia, and the number of cases amounted to 34 people ....
        High incidence of typhoid fever and dysentery was constantly recorded. As before, large cities with disordered water supply and poor sanitation remained the foci of intestinal infections. The incidence of typhoid fever and dysentery in the army has become threatening.
        From the first days of the war, an increase in the incidence of typhus began. First of all, the Russian army was affected (the incidence per 1000 personnel was 1912 in 0,13; 1913 in 0,13; 1915 in 2,33 and 1916 in 1,68). The disease spread among the civilian population, which was facilitated by refugees and prisoners of war.
        In 1915, a rise in the incidence of smallpox began. In 1914, the incidence of smallpox in the country was 4,0 per 10 population, in 000 - 1915, in 9,0 - 1919. The reason for the spread of smallpox, as before, was insufficient vaccination of the population against this disease.
        Compare with the period of the Great Patriotic War, and it’s so literally in everything.
    3. 3x3zsave
      3x3zsave April 3 2020 08: 48 New
      historically, from Asia it only reached Astrakhan,
      Doubtful statement. And how did she appear in London, in 1854?
      1. Free wind
        Free wind April 3 2020 10: 16 New
        If anything was brought from India, cholera was rampant there.
        1. 3x3zsave
          3x3zsave April 3 2020 10: 30 New
          D. Snow was able to determine the source of the infection of this outbreak. It was localized by a single standpipe in the Soho area. In the case of import of infection from the colonies, foci of disease should appear in large port cities in the first place, but this was not observed.
    4. Trilobite Master
      Trilobite Master April 3 2020 11: 53 New
      Quote: Free Wind
      she couldn’t come from Leningrad, historically from Asia she only reached Astrakhan,

      In St. Petersburg, the Mitrofanievsky cemetery, which was popularly called the Cholera, is still partially preserved. It was founded in 1831 to bury the victims of the cholera epidemic. By the way, during the same epidemic, the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, the one who refused to be emperor in 1825, died of cholera.
    5. Normal ok
      Normal ok April 3 2020 16: 23 New
      I will add that in 1970. in the southern regions of the USSR there was an epidemic of cholera: Crimea, Priazovye, Odessa region. It is interesting that all the problems referred to now took place then. For example: silence by the authorities on the scale of the problem, lack of beds in hospitals, panic, escapes from quarantine regions. There were conspiracy theories. So it was suggested that cholera infected the people specifically because the country lacks products at all laughing Bullshit of course, but people who believed in conspiracies were, are and always will be. Just then, for them, there were no specialized resources wassat
      1. Korsar4
        Korsar4 April 3 2020 21: 48 New
        Vysotsky's song:

        "Cholera mowing the ranks,
        But people are again closing in on the lines. ”
  7. atos_kin
    atos_kin April 3 2020 08: 15 New
    On this topic, I recommend the memoirs of P.N. Burgasov "I believed ..."
  8. Andrei from Chelyabinsk
    Andrei from Chelyabinsk April 3 2020 11: 48 New
    Those who today are trying to represent the then leaders of the party, the country, the Red Army as near-minded and heartless cannibals who thoughtlessly threw millions of Soviet people to death, can not be called other than liars, the likes of which the world has never seen.

    Can not argue with that
  9. Operator
    Operator April 3 2020 14: 12 New
    Quote: 3x3zsave
    finished antibodies

    The finished antibody concentrate (from another person) is serum.
    A concentrate of attenuated viral viruses of the virus - a vaccine, is used to develop its antibodies in the body of the vaccinee.