The Hunt for the Mosquito

in Epidemic Invasions

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226218113
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226218137 | DOI:
The Hunt for the Mosquito

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Despite intense efforts aimed at controlling yellow fever, in 1900 the number of cases began to increase again in the United States. The quarantines and extensive disinfections that were established to protect ports across the U.S. South from the spread of yellow fever restricted the trade and the economic exchange between the two countries. This chapter traces the history of the theory that linked yellow fever with the mosquito, its confirmation, and its application to the efforts against yellow fever in Cuba. The U.S. Yellow Fever Commission, headed by Walter Reed, was sent to Cuba in 1900 and confirmed the theory of a Cuban doctor, Carlos J. Finlay, that the disease was carried by a species of mosquito and not by filth. The U.S. occupation government reorganized its sanitation force to focus primarily on the destruction of mosquito breeding places and the isolation of yellow fever patients from mosquitoes. Although many Cubans—and many U.S. officials—were skeptical of the new anti-mosquito efforts, the policies of the military government succeeded in ridding Cuba of yellow fever.

Keywords: yellow fever; Cuba; United States; sanitation; disinfections; quarantines; Yellow Fever Commission; Walter Reed; mosquitoes; Carlos J. Finlay

Chapter.  6940 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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