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Disease during the Dust Bowl

By: Jayde Taylor, Christina Acevedo, and Shelley King.
 Diseases during the Dust Bowl
    The Dust Bowl occurred during the 1930's. It was a time period full of drought and dust storms throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and Colorado. It affected more than 75% of the United States. The amount of dust caused a lot of diseases. Some of the diseases that occurred during the Dust Bowl were dust pneumonia, rickets, valley fever, and malnutrtion.
Dust Pneumonia:
A euphemism for clogging of the lungs with dirt. (Cook) It is unknown how many people died of this disease, but thousands of Plains residents died from it. This disease was used in songs by many artists, such as Woody Guthrie's song "Dust Pneumonia Blues". Symptoms of Dust Pneumonia include: high fever, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and coughing. People who got Dust Pneumonia usually died. They wore dust masks to prevent breathing in the dust. The Red Cross gave out thousands of masks ("Dust Pneumonia").
"I went to the doctor, and the doctor, said, "My son,"
I went to the doctor, and the doctor, said, "My son,
You got that dust pneumony an' you ain't got long, not long."

Now there ought to be some yodelin' in this song;
Yeah, there ought to be some yodelin' in this song;
But I can't yodel for the rattlin' in my lung."
Dust Pneumonia Blues- Woody Guthrie (Guthrie)

Rickets is a softening of bones in children. They get it when they are lacking vitamin D, phosphorous, or calcium. It can lead to fractures and deformity. The origin of the word rickets is most likely from the Old English word "wrickken", meaning to twist. The Greek word "rachitis", meaning inflamation of the spine, was later made the scientific word for rickets. Symptoms of rickets include: bone pain or tenderness, dental problems, muscle weakness, skeletal deformity, growth disturbance, and many more ("Rickets").
Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis):
This is a lung disease. It is endemic in the southwestern United States, northwestern Mexico, Central America, and South America. This fungus naturally grows in alkaline soil in hot, dry areas. The spores can lie formant for a long time in harsh condtions like heat and drought. They become airborne when soil is stirred up by winds, vehicles, construction, agriculture, and many other activities. A person or animal contracts it by breathing in the spores. Once infection occurs in the lungs the spore becomes a larger, multicellular structure called a spherule. Most of the time symptoms don't show up for 2-3 weeks after exposure, if they have symptoms. 60% of people don't even have symptoms. The rest get flu-like symptoms that can last for a month. The symptoms may include: low-grade fever, fatigue, dry cough, chest pain, skin rash, sweats, chills, etc. It is not contagious and usually doesn't need treatment. You can only get valley fevers once. All the dust during the dust bowl years is how valley fever was spread ("Valley Fever").
People during the Dust Bowl died of malnutrition, because they could not feed themselves. They couldn't feed themselves, because most of them were farmers and didn't have the money to buy food for themselves or their families
During the Dust Bowl years people were extremely poor. They didn't have the money to properly feed themselves or their families. This caused the malnutrition. They didn't have the money for doctors to treat the diseases they got from exposure to the dust either. That is why so many people got diseases during this time period. This is also why the diseases spread so much. 

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Guthrie, Woody. "Dust Pneumonia Blues." 2011. 7 April 2011. <>

Olsen, Teri Ann Berg. "Whirling Winds (part two) dust storms & dust devils." 2000-2011. Teri Ann Berg Olsen. 7 April 2011. <
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"The Dust Bowl." 2005-2010. Filters Fast LLC. 7 April 2011.

"The Dust Bowl Years." 2003. Adams Historical Society. 7 April 2011. <>
"Valley Fever." 2011. Directors of Health Promotion and Education. 7 April 2011. <>