San Joaquin Valley Branch Camp Summary

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The Army went to great lengths to safeguard the health of its prisoners as mandated in the Geneva Convention. Of immediate concern was preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Shortly after arriving at his first POW camp in America, each prisoner received a complete physical exam. It included vaccinations against smallpox, typhoid, paratyphoid, and tetanus. At least once a month thereafter, Army medical corps officers inspected the prisoners for communicable diseases and vermin infestation.67 At Camp Cooke, POWs with minor medical problems were treated at the camp infirmary. A German-speaking American doctor and German medical corps soldiers staffed the infirmary. In the San Joaquin Valley, where most of Cooke’s branch camps were located, two Army medical officers made routine rounds attending to POW patients. Outside the valley, the branch camps at Edwards Ranch and Saticoy each had small infirmaries that received routine visits by a medical officer from the main camp. Serious medical problems at the branch camps that required hospitalization were referred to nearby military installations, or to the post hospital at Cooke where two wards were set aside for prisoners.68…show more content…
More commonly known as Valley Fever, it is endemic to the dry soil of the San Joaquin Valley and to other parts of the American southwest. Infections are acquired by inhalation of spore-laden dust that affects the pulmonary system. It is usually not fatal if treated properly. Migrant workers and German POWs who worked in the fields in Kern, Tulare, and Kings Counties digging, hoeing, and picking potatoes, cotton, and cultivating other crops were susceptible to infection. The peak season for the disease was between July and August when the fields were their dustiest before the start of fall or winter

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