Tag Archives: Yellow Fever

Infectious diseases in the Civil War

Lloyd Klein  San Francisco, California, United States   Dr. Louis Pasteur. Photo by Paul Nadar, 1878. Wellcome Collection. Via Wikimedia. CC BY 4.0. The main cause of death during the American Civil War was not battle injury but disease. About two-thirds of the 620,000 deaths of Civil War soldiers were caused by disease, including 63% […]

Death, disease, and discrimination during the construction of the Panama Canal (1904-1914)

Enrique Chaves-Carballo Overland Park, Kansas, United States   Theodore Roosevelt, portrait, ca. 1904, Wikipedia Commons, public domain. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858-1919) President Theodore Roosevelt envisioned an interoceanic canal as indispensable for American “dominance at the seas.”1 An isthmian canal would facilitate rapid deployment of U.S. Navy ships from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans, bypassing the arduous […]

The history of quarantine and contact tracing as surveillance strategies

Mariella Scerri Victor Grech Malta   A view of the city of Malta, on the side of the Lazaretto or pest-house, where ships perform quarantine, by Joseph Goupy, around 1740-1760. Public Domain. Source. Quarantine, from the Italian quaranta, meaning forty, is a centuries-old public health measure instituted to control the spread of infectious diseases by […]

Oswaldo Cruz and the eradication of infectious diseases in Brazil

Robert Perlman Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photo of buildings on Rue Oswaldo-Cruz, a street in Paris named after the physician. Photo from Wikimedia by user CVB. CC BY-SA 4.0 In 1899, an epidemic of bubonic plague caused a crisis in the Brazilian port city of Santos. Ship captains were angry that their boats had […]

George Crile Sr., founder of the Cleveland Clinic

Portrait of G. W. Crile. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) Early days George Crile was an exceptional man, a skilled surgeon who lived at a time when American medicine was emerging from its horse and buggy period and was embracing the principles of aseptic surgery and scientific medicine. Always full of new ideas, he was […]

Origin of yellow fever

Enrique Chaves-Carballo  Kansas City, Kansas, United States   Henry R. Carter (1852-1925), Public Health Service Assistant Surgeon General and yellow fever epidemiologist. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) The origin of yellow fever has been a controversial subject since the disease appeared in the New World. William C. Gorgas, who was responsible […]

Carlos J. Finlay: the mosquito man

Enrique Chaves-Carballo Kansas City, Kansas, United States   Portrait Dr. Carlos J. Finlay. From Images History of Medicine (IHM), National Library of Medicine. Carlos Juan Finlay was born in Puerto Príncipe (now Camagüey), Cuba, on December 3, 1833. He was sent to Europe to complete his secondary education but was forced to return to Cuba […]

African American contract doctors in the military

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   African American Soldiers in Cuba, 1898, Wikipedia In the spring of 1898, the United States rushed into a war with Spain but lacked adequate troops, training, weapons, transport, supplies, food, landing craft, and medical personnel. One deficit that could be corrected before the shooting started was the […]

The hunt for a yellow fever therapy

Edward McSweegen Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Roux’s syringe for delivering antitoxin, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.  Source In March 2020, a research group in China reported the use of convalescent plasma to treat ten patients suffering from coronavirus COVID-19 infections.1 This type of therapy—passive immunization—dates back to 1891 when the German bacteriologist Emil […]

How conflict and bureaucracy delayed the elimination of yellow fever

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Army Surgeon General George Miller Sternberg, Wikimedia The Golden Age of Bacteriology (1876-1906) saw the emergence of techniques to cultivate bacterial pathogens and develop vaccines and anti-toxin therapies against them. The new bacteriologists rapidly identified the agents causing anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid, tuberculosis, cholera, tetanus, diphtheria, plague, and […]