Diseases with the characteristic symptoms of dysentery existed in ancient times in China, Korea, and Japan, and in modern Korea both bacillary and amebic dysentery were quite prevalent. Noting that Korean patients recovered from amebic dysentery better than Japanese patients, Hall concluded that dietary habits created different intestinal environments. He advised his Japanese patients to include kimchee in their diet and thought that this improved recovery during later outbreaks (Hall 1978).

Adults probably acquired some immunity as a result of repeated infections in childhood, whereas dysentery in children was probably confused with common "summer complaints." Nevertheless, fatality rates during the 1930s were estimated at about 20 percent of those attacked. Between 1929 and 1937 the number of cases reported annually varied from about 2,000 to almost 5,000. Amebic dysentery was more common than the bacillary type (Simmons et al. 1944).

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