Quinine and Quarantine: Missouri Medicine through the Years

Quinine and Quarantine: Missouri Medicine through the Years

Quinine and Quarantine: Missouri Medicine through the Years

Quinine and Quarantine: Missouri Medicine through the Years

Excerpt

Disease was permitted to run its course after the list of family
remedies had been exhausted
.

—Dr. E. J. Goodwin, A History of Medicine in Missouri,
describing medical treatment in Ste. Genevieve in 1793

Medicine is the art or science of preventing disease or injury, when possible, and of restoring health when illness or injury have already occurred. Healing involves correcting mental problems or physical ailments, using drugs and surgical operations, or replacing diseased and worn-out body parts. For Missouri’s pioneers, the first aspect, preserving health, was something over which they had some control. The second, restoring health, depended on home remedies or was in the hands of the few physicians to be found in Missouri. They seldom had the knowledge necessary to restore health to the seriously ill or injured.

Health, the absence of illness or physical disorders, depends on favorable environmental factors, absence of inherited defects, and freedom from disease. Missouri’s founding fathers recognized the importance of health with the state motto: Salus populi suprema lex esto (Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law). By incorporating their concern for the well-being of the state’s citizens into the great seal, the founding fathers of Missouri announced to the world that, by law, health takes high priority.

This account considers the two aspects of medicine affecting the well-being of Missourians. County officers who carry out health laws and governmental regulations effect the first, preservation of health, through community activities. Informing the public about environmental risk factors and contagious diseases is their responsibility. Other agencies monitor the number of accidents on public roads or in the workplace and search for ways to make those places safer. Still others monitor ground, water, or air pollu-

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