Special Report

Wars Where Diseases Killed More Americans Than Combat

Source: Fotosearch / Archive Photos via Getty Images

6. Philippine-American War
> Americans killed in battle: About 1,500 troops
> Americans killed by disease: About 2,800 troops
> Years of U.S. involvement: 1899-1902

The Philippine-American War, which lasted from early 1899 to mid-1902, resulted in the deaths of 4,300 American servicemen – nearly two-thirds of whom died of disease. On the Pacific Island nation, located more than 8,500 miles from Washington, D.C., outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, and malaria were devastating to American forces who were fighting to maintain control of the country the U.S. had recently purchased from Spain, following the Spanish-American War.

Source: Henry Guttmann / Getty Images

7. World War I
> Americans killed in battle: 53,402 troops
> Americans killed by disease: 63,114 troops
> Years of U.S. involvement: 1917-1918

World War I was the final war in which more Americans died from disease than combat. Of the 4 million Army hospital admissions during the war, a reported 86.3% were due to disease. Though by the time the U.S. joined the war effort, advances in water treatment and vaccines greatly reduced instances of diseases like dysentery and typhoid, the global outbreak of influenza, known as the Spanish Flu, alone killed an estimated 45,000 American troops. Military hospitals were also overwhelmed by more than 23,000 cases of tuberculosis during the war.

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