in Epidemic Invasions

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226218113
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226218137 | DOI:

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Yellow fever repeatedly spread from Havana to the U.S. South in the late nineteenth century. Even in the absence of an epidemic, the threat of yellow fever was a constant encumbrance to the U.S. economy. This book has argued that a principal reason for the 1898 U.S. intervention in the war between Cuba and Spain was to alleviate conditions that threatened the U.S. South: the increase of yellow fever and the neglect of sanitary measures in Havana brought about by the war were intolerable. Observers in the United States attempted to use the issue of public health to establish Cuban inferiority and legitimate U.S. domination. For Cubans, the figures of Carlos J. Finlay and Walter Reed became embodiments of independence and domination, respectively. After the successful elimination of the disease in Cuba, Panama became the next front in the U.S. war against yellow fever. Controlling yellow fever in Panama was an absolute necessity to the completion of the Panama Canal. However, the fight against yellow fever in Panama did not go as easily as it had in Havana.

Keywords: yellow fever; Cuba; United States; epidemic; public health; Carlos J. Finlay; independence; Walter Reed; Panama; Panama Canal

Chapter.  2998 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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