Wednesday, July 27

If it happens, it happens... We can't stop living

Since I just wrote about Yellow Fever on Monday, I was interested to read that Walter Reed Army Medical Center held a ceremony today in preparation for its September closing. The hospital has treated the nation’s war wounded since 1909.

During the yellow fever epidemic of 1793,
Philadelphia authorities sent carriages around the city
to pick up the dead and dying.
Major Walter Reed, M.D., was a U.S. Army physician who in 1900 led the team that discovered that Yellow Fever is transmitted by mosquitoes, not humans.

(Sadly, Reed underwent an emergency appendectomy and died of complications within those same hospital walls in 1902.)

Although the last North American epidemic of Yellow Fever occurred in New Orleans in 1905, yellow fever epidemics in North America have caused about 100,000-150,000 deaths through the years.

(The New Orleans epidemic of 1853, featured in the upcoming Cécile Rey American Girl book series, killed 9,000 people.)

A 1793 outbreak in Philadelphia resulted in the deaths of several thousand people and forced the administration to flee the city, including president George Washington.

A church in Charleston, S.C. suffered 308 Yellow Fever deaths in 1858, reducing its congregation by half.

In 1873, Shreveport, La., lost almost a quarter of its population to Yellow Fever, and in 1878, about 20,000 people died in an epidemic in the Mississippi River Valley.

In 1878 Memphis was hit with an unusually large amount of rain, which led to an increase in the mosquito population. The result was a huge outbreak of Yellow Fever. A ship took people fleeing Memphis hoping to escape the disease, but the ship was not allowed to dock anywhere due to fear of Yellow Fever. The ship roamed the Mississippi for the next two months before unloading her passengers.

Signal flag called the "Yellow Jack."
Yellow Fever was sometimes known as Yellow Jack. Why? A ship flying a yellow flag meant that there was illness aboard. Often this was used to trick pirates away from potential targets.

Huh. I thought a jack was a pirate flag but turns out it's a small flag flown from any boat or ship.

Anyway, thanks for a job well done Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


1 comment:

  1. And thanks for the tribute and the history lesson, Addie! I live a couple of miles north of Walter Reed's main facility and about a mile east of their annex. Whatever they do with the land, my neighbors and I hope that they keep the beautiful green park that is the Walter Reed main campus.