Mental Floss

Yellow Fever: One of Five Infamous Epidemics We Hope We Never See

Chris Weber
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BUGS BITE: YELLOW FEVER

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"¢ People of African descent were thought to be immune to yellow fever, and so they played a key role in caring for the sick in Philadelphia. Yet after the epidemic subsided, blacks were accused of trying to profit from the crisis and even of causing the outbreak! All told, 5,000 Philadelphians died, about 10% of the population, and almost 400,000 more nationwide by 1865.

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"¢ In the early twentieth century, scientists discovered that a mosquito spread the virus that caused yellow fever. The U.S. Army used a pesticide called DDT to curb yellow fever epidemics throughout the Western hemisphere. Rachel Carson later exposed DDT as a leading cause of bird death in her expose Silent Spring.

Other Infamous Epidemics We Hope We Never See: cholera, plague and syphilis.

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