Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First fever victim 1798

A man who worked on Philadelphia's docks died of yellow fever on July 2. The attending physicians, Wistar and Hodge, informed the Health Committee which ordered the house where he died, on Callowhill Road between 1st and 2nd Streets, thoroughly cleaned and whitewashed, and his bedding buried at the City Hospital. All those living in the house had to leave it and all those who had contact with the victim to leave the city. Needless to say the victim, those he lived with and those he associated with were all poor.

These dire measures were announced in the newspapers and there is no way to verify that they were carried out. However, the country and city were mobilizing for an anticipated war with France. Local militias were being formed and in June elements of that home guard helped keep refugees in a ship from St. Domingue at bay when they tried to break a 10 day quarantine. A recently commissioned US Naval vessel enforced the quarantine.

Temperatures were in the 90s on the 2nd and 3rd which increased anxieties. Then a cold front came through on the 4th, and the middle of July was uncommonly cool and pleasant. Nothing occurred to sustain concern. Dr. Hodge died, but he had a chronic liver ailment so there was no suggestion that he died of yellow fever.

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