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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/271

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WALTER REED.

by the bite of the previously infected Stegomyia. Articles used and soiled by patients do not carry infection.

These conclusions pointed so clearly to the practical method of exterminating the disease that they were at once accepted by the sanitary authorities in Cuba, and put to the test in Havana, where for nearly a cenury and a half, by actual record, the disease had never failed to appear annually. In February, 1901, the chief sanitary officer in Havana, Major W. C. Gorgas, Medical Department, U. S. Army, instituted measures to eradicate the disease, based entirely on the conclusions of the commission. Cases of yellow fever were required to be reported as promptly as possible, the patient was at first rigidly isolated, and immediately upon the report a force of men from the sanitary department visited the house. All the rooms of the building and of the neighboring houses were sealed and fumigated to destroy the mosquitoes present. Window and door screens were put up, and after the death or recovery of the patient, his room was fumigated and every mosquito destroyed. A war of extermination was also waged against mosquitoes in general, and an energetic effort was made to diminish the number bred by draining standing water, screening tanks and vessels, using petroleum on water that could not be drained, and in the most systematic manner destroying the breeding places of the insects.

When the warm season returned a few cases occurred, but by September, 1901, the last case of yellow fever originated in Havana, since which time the city has been entirely exempt from the terrible disease, that had there kept stronghold for a hundred and fifty years. Cases are now admitted into Havana from Mexican ports, but are treated under screens with perfect impunity, in the ordinary city hospitals. The crusade against the insects also caused a very large decrease in malarial fevers.

The destruction of the most fatal epidemic disease of the western hemisphere, in its favorite home city is but the beginning of the benefit to mankind that may be expected to follow the work of Reed and his associates. There can be no manner of doubt should Mexico, Brazil and the Central American Republics, where the disease still exists, follow strictly the example set by Havana, that yellow fever will become extinct and the United States forever freed from the scourge, that has in the past slain thousands of our citizens and caused the loss of untold treasure.

More recent investigations into the cause and spread of yellow fever have only succeeded in verifying the work of Reed and his commission in every particular and in adding very little to our knowledge of the disease. Later researches by Guiteras in Havana, by the Public Health and Marine and Hospital Service in Vera Cruz, and lastly by a delegation from the Pasteur Institute of Paris in Rio de Janeiro, all confirm in the most convincing manner, both the accuracy and comprehensive-