The Outbreak Of Yellow Fever

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The outbreak of yellow fever ceased when the first frost of November covered the city of Philadelphia. Out of the eleven-thousand people that contracted the fever, around five-thousand died. The epidemic took ten percent of the city’s population. The epidemic of 1793 was the first to strike in a twenty-nine year period. From 1793 to 1822, the fever ravished through the port cities of the nation. Yellow fever was not caused by miasma in the atmosphere like the inhabitants of Philadelphia thought. The actual cause of the fever would not be known until the nineteenth century. The United States’ invasion of Cuba would lead to the discovery of the cause. A man named Walter Reed discovered that the virus was caused by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the year 1900. It would not be until 1930 with the work of a man named Max Theiler that a vaccine would be developed. This thesis is a deviation from the historiography of the epidemic. It does not examine the epidemic as a battle of doctors. It instead examines how the epidemic played a larger role in American independence. Before the epidemic, the nation was strengthening its individuality by creating its own medical school. It was a step in the nation’s journey of creating its own structures that did not involve the British crown. However when the epidemic began to break out, it was evident that the nation still held to European ideas. John Morgan’s Medical Department of the College would become the University of
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