Department of History
University of California, Irvine
Instructor: Dr. Barbara J. Becker
in Vol. XV, The International Cyclopedia (1898)
|YELLOW FEVER is a disease endemic in low districts near the sea, but
under certain circumstances sporadic in other places, never appearing beyond
48° of n. lat., nor without a temperature of at least 72° F., nor
above the elevation of 2,500 ft. above the level of the sea, depending
in part on causes not yet known, but in circumstances favorable to its
production, capable of being propagated by contagion....
There are great differences of opinion as to the proper treatment of this disease.... It is probable that there is no one mode of treatment suitable for all cases, and that each should be treated according to its special symptoms....
Until the year 1793 the disease was regarded as having a spontaneous origin, and being due to tropical peculiarities operating on European and unseasoned constitutions; but that year the doctrine of infection suddenly started. In that year the disease appeared with great virulence in the island of Grenada, and rapidly spread over the Antilles to Philadelphia and many parts of the state of Pennsylvania, to Massachusetts, New York, Caroline co., Md., Alexandria in Va., several counties in North Carolina, and Caracas in Venezuela. This outbreak was preceded by a few days by the arrival of a vessel from Bulam, on the w. African coast, at a harbor in St. Grenada, in which vessel, when stationed off Bulam, fever had prevailed about five months before to a great and fatal extent. This disease was at the time termed the Bulam fever, but soon turned out to be ordinary yellow fever....
The recent investigations that have been chiefly carried on by the American public health association indicate that yellow fever is a highly infectious disease, but not contagious, in the sense that small-pox is -- one person taking it from another by breathing the same atmosphere. If the person sick with the disease wears garments brought from the infected locality, such materials may communicate the disease....