Yellow Fever and the Panama Canal Term Paper by Master Researcher

Yellow Fever and the Panama Canal
A look at how the Yellow Fever hampered the completion of the Panama Canal.
# 38107 | 1,991 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2002 | US

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This paper explores the many problems caused by the Yellow fever in the building of the Panama Canal. The paper describes the efforts of the French led by de Lesseps in building this canal and notes the many fatalities suffered by the workers and those subsequently investigating the disease. The paper looks at the research that discovered the role of the mosquito in spreading the disease and notes that the real triumph of the project, phenomenal as the engineering aspect of it is, may belong to the medical men who exhibited enormous bravery in volunteering to experiment on themselves, risking their own lives to prevent needless deaths in the future.

From the Paper:

"In 1903, Panama and the United States signed a treaty in which the United States agreed to build an inter-oceanic ship canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The next year, the United States purchased from the French Canal Company its rights and properties for $40 million and began construction. At that time, Panama City and Colon were both
small, squalid towns with a single railroad linking them together and running alongside the remains of the aborted French effort. No doubt, the new team was also haunted by the ghosts of de Lesseps's workers, some tens of thousands of whom had died on the project. These new builders were able, however, to learn from de Lesseps's mistakes and to build on the foundations of the previous engineering. As has already been mentioned, the engineering problems were tough enough but the real killer had been, and would continue to be, yellow fever.
"It was not at that time an unknown disease, having already been investigated as part of a study of malarial fever in 1807 by John Crawford of Baltimore. He had made a provisional link between yellow fever and the mosquito. This idea was also proposed by two others in 1850, Josiah Nott of Mobile Alabama and Louis Beauperthy from Guadaloupe. Neither, however, had proof of this. And in 1881, Carlos Finlay, a Havana physician of Anglo-French origins, also took up the cry. (Porter, p. 472)"

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