M*A*S*H episode
“Germ Warfare”
Germ Warfare
Hawkeye and Trapper suspect Frank has hepatitis so they handcuff him to Margaret to prevent him from approaching any patients.
Season 1, Episode # 11
Number (#11) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Timothy Brown
Odessa Cleveland
Karen Philipp
Byron Chung
Patrick Adiarte
Bob Gooden
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: J304
Writer(s) Larry Gelbart
Director Terry Becker
Original airdate December 10, 1972
IMDb logo IMDB Germ Warfare
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"I Hate a Mystery" (J‑306) "Dear Dad" (J‑313)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"To Market, to Market" (J‑303) "The Moose" (J‑305)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 1 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

"Germ Warfare" was the 11th episode of the first season of the TV series M*A*S*H. It originally aired on December 10, 1972 and was rerun May 13, 1973. It was actually the 4th episode to be produced but was to appear quite late in the season. The episode was written by Larry Gelbart and directed by Terry Becker.[1][2][3][4][5][6]


Hawkeye and Trapper play Dracula when they secretly steal some of Frank's blood in the night to aid a North Korean P.O.W. with a matching rare blood type. However, they fear Frank is a carrier of hepatitis when the patient develops it and plot to keep him away from everyone, including Margaret.

Full episode summaryEdit

Hawkeye and Frank Burns have an argument in Post-Op. Frank wants to send a North Korean P.O.W. on to the P.O.W. section because the 4077th is short of beds but Hawkeye disagrees, saying that the patient needs more time for his injuries to heal.

Hawkeye takes the dispute to Henry but Henry is forced to agree with Frank - not only does he need the bedspace, the P.O.W. also has a rare AB-negative blood type which will be a strain on the 4077th's resources. However, Henry relents - he allows Hawkeye to keep the patient for another 24 hours as long as he is not using up a bed in Post-Op.

Hawkeye, Trapper, and Ho-Jon move the North Korean to Hawkeye's cot in the Swamp. Meanwhile, Radar is sent to hunt for a supply of AB-negative blood. Radar brings the list of the camp personnel and their blood types and it turns out that the person in the camp with a matching blood type is...Frank.

That night, while Frank is sound asleep, Hawkeye and Trapper tap him for a pint of blood. All goes well - all Frank knows about it is that he has a weird dream about being a soda with a big straw sticking into him.

Some time later, however, the P.O.W. develops the symptoms of hepatitis. Hawkeye and Trapper are concerned the carrier might be Frank so they need to do some tests on Frank, but how? They have a bit of Frank's blood, but now they need a urine sample as well.

So Hawkeye, Trapper, and Spearchucker trick Frank into testing some cans of beer in the Swamp, knowing that Frank cannot hold his alcohol. A few cans later, Frank needs to hurry to the latrine, but Radar has closed it off for "redecorating" - Frank has to use a bucket set up in a small tent. Boone is sent off to Seoul with the samples for testing but meanwhile, Frank, who is potentially infectious, has to be kept away from everyone else, and that includes Margaret.

Some complicated moves are made to keep the two majors apart. Frank is told that Henry wants to see him, while Margaret is told that Lt. Dish needs her in Post-Op. These ruses do not last for long, however. Soon, Margaret and Frank are due to be on Post-Op duty and the test results are still not back.

In a desperate attempt to stop Frank and Margaret, Hawkeye tells them his suspicions about hepatitis, but Frank dismisses the concern, so Trapper handcuffs Frank to Margaret to stop them from going into Post-Op. Henry comes in and demands what is going on, but just then, the test results come back. Frank does not have hepatitis, but he does have anemia.

Later, after a long shift, Hawkeye and Trapper return to the Swamp to find Frank playing checkers with the P.O.W., since he's recuperating from his anemia. Hawkeye and Trapper offer Frank a bouquet of daisies as an apology for stealing his blood, and he forgives them. They then ask for him to donate to a heart transplant, and Frank throws the flowers back at them.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Going by air date order, this is the last episode to feature Spearchucker as a character.
  • This is also the second and last episode to feature Lieutenant Dish and the last episode to feature Boone.
  • This episode draws inspiration from similar incidents in the MASH novel and the MASH movie. In both cases, a rare blood type is urgently needed for an operation. The difference is in the novel, Radar taps a sleeping Duke Forrest for the blood, while in the movie, Radar taps Henry Blake.
  • The last part {Burns playing checkers} is usually not in the syndicated version of the show.
  • In this episode, apparently, the only person in the whole unit with the rare AB-negative blood type is Frank. However, in future episodes where this blood type is needed, it turns out that Klinger also has it. They could have discovered that Klinger also had the same rare blood type, by checking the blood records on non officers after this incident, possibly as a direct result of what happened with Frank.


  • The beer cans used in Henry's office and in the swamp had to be opened with a church key. These are appropriate to the time period. However the shapes look a bit modern. Beer cans of this era were not made from aluminum and had flat bottoms.

version! But remembering that they had to be opened with a puncher is a nice authentic touch.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.