The Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 Essay

The Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 Essay

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The 1878 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis proved to be fatal, killing almost all who got infected. The disease traveled up from New Orleans infecting and killing many on its way. Memphis was going through reconstruction and was becoming the center for merchants and travelers. Furthermore, Memphis began to become overly populated only increasing the devastation that would be caused by the yellow fever. This was a confusing period were even medical professionals did not know where the disease came from or how they could to stop it. The epidemic caused panic and challenged the state government of Tennessee and made changes to it that are still in effect today.
The discovery of yellow fever would have not been possible if people had not put aside their misconceptions of where diseases originated. Diseases in olden time were believed to be divine punishment to people who had committed bad deeds, and therefore not much was done to try to find cures for diseases like yellow fever. As defined by the World Health Organization, yellow fever an acute viral hemorrhagic diseases transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and a common characteristic of this disease is the development of jaundice which gave it the name "yellow" fever. The mosquito responsible for the transmission of the disease is the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Her transmission of the disease occurs as a result of it biting an infected host and inside her body the virus multiplies, and afterwards if the mosquito bites someone that person becomes infected.

It seemed as if Memphis had met all the right conditions for the outbreak of one of the most devastating epidemics in United States history in 1878. First, the lack of money and excess debt brought Memphis to the brin...


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...et. Yellow Fever and the South. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Keating, John McLeod. A History of the Yellow Fever. The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, in Memphis, Tenn., Embracing a Complete List of the Dead, the Names of the Doctors and Nurses Employed, Names of All Who Contributed Money or Means, and the Names and History of the Howards, Together with Other Data, and Lists of the Dead Elsewhere. Memphis: Howard Assn, 1879.

Shmaefsky, Brian. 2010. Yellow Fever. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed October 5, 2013).

Weisberger. "Tennessee State of the Nation." Epidemic, Edited by Calvin Dickinson and Larry Whiteaker, 129-138. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2006.

"Yellow fever." World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs100/en/ (accessed October 14, 2013).



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