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March of Manderson a public service. Of the American hospital supply corporation. There had been a war with Spain a splendid little war as someone called it. No that war was over. The victory won. Cuba was free and the Spaniards were back in Spain and in Havana casualties in the American army continued to mount. No peace had been made with an enemy more deadly than a Spanish gun. A terrifying fatal fever which the soldiers knew as yellow jack. Major Walter Reed I have orders to report to General Leonard would sit down read. I would. Made good time for Mornington the orders that all dispatched general. You know that was an understatement. You're a doctor about yellow fever. There's not too much to know. I found that
out. Filthy stinking disease. We beat the dumbs with no trouble read or not much. Then yellow jacket a civilian population to. Those church bells down there. They're being rung for the dead hours there's ringing for days. I'd rather fight the dogs twice over than face this. These. People turn bright yellow you know that black box. And they die. I know. What steps have you taken. Stupid ones as it turns out. Disease breeds in filth I thought so I cleaned up the whole place civilian areas military areas everything spic and span you know what happened. There's more yellow fever in Havana today than they've had in 20 years. One third of my own staff my staff is dead. That's why you're here. You're supposed to know about these things. I want you to find out what causes this yellow jacket and I want you to stop.
The American hospital supply corporation presents. As a public service march of Madison. Ramat positions of great moments in the history of medicine. Our story for today. The mosquito bite. This is Paul Byron speaking the field of public health. The business of fighting pestilence and epidemic the business of educating whole communities and even nations in good health practices has always been one of the most adventurous and exciting special fields of medicine. And here to tell you something about the field as it exists today is our special guest Dr. hü delit Director of Public Health Dallas City Health Department. Doctor do it.
It is most appropriate that I should speak on a radio program which recalls the great triumphal of Dr Walter Reed. All the yellow fever because some of the first public health boards in the United States were created because of yellow fever epidemics. Those in Baltimore Philadelphia and New York City for example. You may have heard about the Dallas Public Health Department recently when we used planes to spray did Dallas area to stop the outbreak of St. Louis topple flatus encephalitis transmitted by to bite off one kind of mosquito that may have seemed rather dramatic but it did work. And after all the whole tradition of the public health field has been dramatic. Backed by distinguished research like that of Walter Reed we have destroyed many illnesses and greatly reduced others to great child killers all 50 years ago all diptheria scarlet fever whooping cough and measles are almost gone.
The salt and oral polio vaccines as well as other vaccines and medicines used on a grand scale have almost eliminated polio and other scourges. But there are always more diseases to conquer and I hope always more dedicated young people to join in our work for the promotion of health and the prevention of disease. Why shouldn't you be one of them. Thank you Dr. Dalit. There were many plagues hunters and disease destroyers before Walter Reed epidemic diseases as old as human society. If you live together you get sick together and sometimes you die together. The remedy is against epidemics were many successes were few and yet there were successes. Mr. Edward rightly Montagu a young British gentleman was to declare my lady mother was something of a wit and yet I forgive her that. But if she did nothing else she saved me from smallpox. I was but a child. The air was
716 when she observed we being in Turkey at the time that the Turks engrafted against smallpox by feeding some of the filthy matter of the disease into ones own healthy blood. She wrote to one of her cronies at that point. There is no example of anyone who has died from it. That upon offered me up as sacrificial cleaner cleaner but who would believe me until in the year of grace 1740 some sixty four justices Cox and suchlike of Old Bailey lost their lives by unpicturesque disease I was consulted I said claims the date of sir. Betty the food was. Oh we've been a guy washed. Even the prison knows. Then I said there would be no more sickness to cut it up for good justices and maybe epidemics of infectious disease. I never pleasant a face when Major Walter Reed reported what I read made me progress. It's too early to say General I have met the man you assigned to work with me Dr. Carroll. Jesse Lazar Aristocles agro money they all seem to be good men. They'd
better be the four of you are of the yellow fever commission but if you know and so far we can find a microbe and bacillus identified with the fever. I talk to about a doctor Dr. Carlos Finlay. I heard of him some sort of fanatic is me. He thinks that a mosquito was the carrier of yellow fever. That seems possible. I've noticed that people in direct contact with the sick often don't catch the disease. It seems almost a move through the air. So you agree with Finlay fanatic or not and I don't know General. But we are studying mosquito eggs. Mosquito eggs. Mosquito. You know very well read I have proved I'm a fool to stopping this disease. Use your own judgment do what you think necessary. Thank you General. But there is something you should know. Yellow fever does not affect animals. That's you know I hadn't realized that means general that when we come to experiment with the disease we cannot use animals. We shall begin experimenting with human
beings. There was a sequel to the major's conversation with the general some nights later. Well to read convened a meeting of his yellow fever commission and put the problem to them. Gentlemen I don't know if Carl's family's notion about mosquitoes has any merit or not but if you see any other line of research open to us I wish you'd speak up Jesse. If I had any ideas you wouldn't have to ask more of them. I imagine that goes for Jesse too why not. And I was trying to look for the microbes and here there aren't any. How many gentlemen who have never spoken of this matter but I know it's been in your minds as it has in mine very soon now we have to go to the soldiers of the American army and ask for volunteers volunteers to be infected with the yellow fever. We might have better luck and. I confess I would feel fewer qualms of the members of the commission volunteered first. I know I know it's a dreadful thing to ask.
Jessie you have two children. Gemini I think you have five. So I don't ask it but I believe it's the right way. I'm prepared myself you're so much fuss for so little. I will take a bite. Why not. As a doctor you should know that a man with five children has to be pretty tough. You can count on me. This is Jimmy to Randy and Jason and I want to tell you what's really hard for somebody like me in the entertainment business to realize how many different jobs bill went to the public helped save us as doctors as medical researchers. There's just plain science and study and things like eh pollution and radiology deaths Civil Engineers sanitation engineers electronic engineers. That's for a 5:00 kind a no he says. Does dentist I tell you what all these cities and states and federal
public tell people what's good for us if we aren't healthy. We ought to be. This is Paul Barnes again. No sooner had Major Walter Reed come to that desperate agreement with the members of his yellow fever commission that they themselves should be the first guinea pigs in the search for the cause of yellow jack. Then he was called back to Washington. It seems there was some paperwork but behind him he left very specific instructions with James Carroll and Jesse lives here this year tried some experiments with his mosquitoes and they failed. But James Carroll was an old soldier and he understood the meaning of orders. Do you see the Major said before he left. Mosquitoes you heard him. Well I tried. Nothing worked. You didn't try them on me. Jim I'm a civilian. I understand medicine a little but not this military
foolishness. I absolutely refuse a man with five children to say I told you never mind about the army did you get your best mosquito did you. Oh sure sure I got her here. And this tube she's had blood from four different yellow fever cases. Two of them very bad. She had to kill you know just like a rifle bullet only slower and harder put her on my arm. Come on. That's right. Don't hurt her Don't hurt her. That's good. I guess that does it. Jessie if there's any truth in the mosquito theory I should get a real good dose of yellow fever. Two days and he fell and Jesse Lazear had him in the yellow fever ward where James Carroll a good soldier came as near to death as a man may
and still is. He said afterward. There was one time when I knew with it my heart had stopped. It was a bad moment. But then it started again. It was really a wonderful time for me. I was the first man to come down with yellow fever after the experimental bite of a mosquito. Strangely enough it was James Carroll who lived and Jesse Lazear who died this year tending his mosquitoes making sure that they fed on the blood of yellow fever victims must have been a little careless. James Carroll later reported to Major Reid. On the evening of September 18th Dr. Lazear complained of feeling out of
sorts. And had a chill at 8 p.m.. On September 19th 12:00 noon. His temperature was one hundred two point four degrees pulse one hundred twelve. His temperature mounted through the day and the pulse rate decreased. Join us appeared on the third. The subsequent history of this case was one of progressive and fateful yellow fever. The death of our lamented colleague having occurred on the evening of September 25th 19:00. When Walter Reed came back to Cuba he went back to the General with a request. General I need to build a camp a small one maybe seven tents two houses that's no problem Major. What he wanted for laboratory animals general for yellow fever laboratory animals. You mean men soldiers. Were you going to get them. I'm going to ask for
volunteers. All right. You can tell them they'll be paid say two hundred dollars apiece tell them that. Thank you General. So I give them any advice on how to spend it. The author volunteers surprisingly enough they came my private Kissinger's her state of Ohio sir. And I'm a rotten John J. Civilians are. Well good morning gentlemen. I'll just sit down. Thank you sir. Rather Stan we came to volunteer sir. Indeed you can try your yellow jacket on us sorry this is gratifying Gentlemen do you know what you're risking. Yellow Jack sorry if you hold your agreement gentlemen all goes well I shall try to infect you with a deadly disease that may well destroy you. We know that sir you will suffer wrecking headaches a burning vapor. You'll sink into the depths of we know that we've been in Cuba for a wire. I can offer you a sum of money through the
generosity of General Wood. Two hundred dollars if you survive sir Moran and I talked before we reported to you sir. We volunteer on one condition sir and that is that is that we get no compensation for what we do around you. You agree. I do sir this is too important for money. You know I think so myself. Gentlemen I salute you. Well Kissinger took the disease from a mosquito bite and he fell sick and suffered and survived. And there were five Spaniards who took the disease in the same way and maybe for the $200 that was offered them. And they fell sick and suffered and four of them survived. So it seemed clear that Dr. Carlos Finley of Havana had had a good idea and that yellow fever was in fact carried by the stucco my own mosquito but was it certain wasn't there after all the chance that the fever might be spread by contact with the sick.
Well to read ahead to find out. All right men just leave the boxes there. Shouldn't they be open major. No. No. And I you mean get out of here and go back to your base. You would think I should know what's going on now Major. Of course I didn't want to frighten those men. Jim you see this is a tight little house. I see no windows no draft and a nice little stove in the corner. That's right. And I want it hot. And those boxes no no no don't don't don't touch him Jim don't touch those boxes are full of the filthiest most contaminated betting from the yellow fever wards of Las Animas major You can't lie not you volunteered in gym. Why not others. Seems hard to believe. Not to me Jim. Not after you and Kissinger and Moran. You know if you look down the hill you'll see a young doctor cook and privates full can join
again. They're coming to live here in the steamy little shack. They'll sleep on this infected bedding. They'll tell us once and for all whether you can catch yellow fever by contact. With. The old one. This is Jimmy de Rainey in motion. And I'm still on the subject of public health and all of the careers it has to offer to young people who want to do something useful with their lives. Now you take a girl who wants to make a career of nation and see she joins the United States Public Health Service. What can she do. Well she might find herself at the Clinical Center at protest the Maryland. Well you can on a research team at the Heart Institute or Kanchan on mental health. Oh she might go to election turnout for wait
for special boy. We're not cutting Addicks. Well she might find a show for one of the Indian hospitals anywhere from Alaska to New Mexico. Well she might just find a show of in our own neighborhood help and those around us. What I'm trying to say is that the public health service national or local can offer you an exciting and rewarding career. Why don't you ask about it. This is Paul Barnes again. I wonder if you have ever known anyone who has suffered from yellow fever. Almost certainly you have not unless your life span goes back to Around the turn of the century. Yellow fever is one of those diseases which has been utterly destroyed eradicated wiped out thanks largely to the devotion of Walter Reed and the courage of his volunteers.
I want to make a small point in mentioning this matter. We become so concerned and fearful about the diseases which have not yet been conquered heart disease cancer and the like that we sometimes forget. How many killers have become a part of history. But 60 odd years ago yellow fever was a real scourge. And the question of what caused it was still open. Major major read you know about that. Full turn again you know. I know Jim they're there all right. I just saw them. They said that Shaq was awful it smelled like nothing and this one time they sweat like I don't know but they're healthy. Not a trace of yellow fever. I was just reading my report as you came up here so the babble of the belief that clothing can transmit yellow fever was picked by the first touch of human experimentation. What about that Jim. Well it's fine major just fine but but what what about John Jay Moran. What about John Jay Moran.
What indeed he had volunteered for an attack of yellow fever along with private Kissinger but nothing had happened. Kissinger had caught the fever had recovered but most ran seemed immune to an experimenter. Moran was a nuisance. He threw all the results off somehow. Major Reid went to visit this stubborn fellow. How do you feel Moran playing star. Sorry sorry. I know you've been bitten. Oh yes sir. It doesn't seem to do any good. You know you should have caught yellow jack. Well yes Major. And I would if I could. I don't doubt it. But you are a sort of scientific problem. Now see here I'm going to put you in a room by yourself a nice little room. You pay. You get a clean white shirt. The room itself is as clean as the United States Army can make it. Sounds pretty nice are. Then we will turn loose the filthiest most infected mosquitoes we can find in your room and that way if you'll excuse me Major any Yellow Jack I get can
be blamed on the mosquitoes and nothing else. Major major wake up major wake up on Christmas morning Jim. I got a present for you. Moran ran his yellow fever. Moran has a poor fella major he's got yellow fever. He's the happiest man in the world. He says he got it from a mosquito and no other way he says. Merry Christmas major. And Walter Reed was to write a letter to his wife Moran. Moran God bless him is proof doc ace the essential factor in the infection of a building with yellow fever is the presence there and of mosquitoes that have bitten cases of yellow fever. It's as simple as that. God be praised Moran has
survived the test and now the prayer that has been mine for 20 years that I might be permitted in some way or at some time to do something to alleviate human suffering has been granted. It is a happy New Year indeed for me. This is Jimmy to Randy and push him. And I'm talking about community helped public health and what you can do to wait for it. Every community in the United States has its public health center with doctors and nurses and technicians. We're going to keep you well. Do you know what these people worry about. They worry about whether the water you drink is pure whether the air you breathe is pure nowadays. They worry about how much radiation exposure you get. They worry about what diseases you might catch and where they come from and how they can be stopped. Yeah great worry is each
public health people. And just because they were ready and didn't do something about it you know when I can feel a lot better and live a lot longer. I've been thinking wouldn't it be great to work with them as an engineer you know you're a doctor and ministration you might be able to do it. Why don't you ask how to get started. For more information. Right. Health careers. Post Office Box four to seven. Evanston Illinois. Paul Barnes once more when Walter Reed's report on yellow fever became generally known there was excitement all round the world. First came that old plague fighter that all disease killer William Crawford goodness you don't know me Major read but I well I'm not a scientist not a researcher like you. But when it comes to killing killing mosquitoes killing
lice killing filth all the crawling disease ridden creatures of the earth they are. I am great. Within three months of that I was free of yellow fever free as the city had not been in a century. But not all the other scientists who came to Cuba were as enthusiastic as gorgeous. I am sure you will realize Dr. Major either titled Is there I am both doctor and major. I'm sure you realize the need for extreme caution. Excepting the findings of your report. Quite so quite so. Please investigate gentlemen satisfy yourselves if you can. If we can. He's precisely the point. Nature Dr.. You want experiments on the disease were necessarily made under difficult even primitive conditions. Quite so quite so gentleman to be frank about it when Major Reid began his researches into yellow fever and the war with Spain was barely ended
and there was a serious epidemic of a disease in Cuba. All quite so so quite no. Sorry if you please. And that is precisely my point. Conditions were rude even violent and scientific accuracy was hardly possible and yet I think that Major Reid's findings have proved sound. He has demonstrated with much evidence that the stag on my A mosquito is the carrier of yellow fever go home said Let me demonstrate in this jar gentlemen I have several specimens of the female steak of my own. Have you had occasion to observe this interesting creature at close range. No. Well then let me say it. Dear me I seem to have dropped the jar. Yellow fever. I'm sorry Major. I meant to tell them that these mosquitoes were not infected. And what became of them all in the end. Well that curious insects the females
ceased to be a force in human affairs but not before she had signed the death warrant of Jessie Lazear James Carroll died in 1907. Still a young man and Walter Reed came to his end in 1902 of appendicitis. Someone remembered that just as he slipped into the final sleep he said and I'm leaving my wife and daughter so little. So. No doubt he was right. Dedicated men often leave little behind them in the way of property but to humanity. Walter Reed left one of the greatest of. The lack of fear because of him. We have one less terror in living one less. Dread. March of Madison. Promises ations of great moments in the history of medicine.
Much of medicine is brought to you as a public service by the American hospital supply corporation. Appearing on today's program where Paul Barnes Naaman got Jock rush Reed and Jerry coffers. This is Martin Maloney speaking. Authentication of materials used on this program was provided by the research division of Encyclopedia Britannica. If you wish to receive a copy of the script for this program or information on careers in health and medicine please sign your name and address on a postcard to health couriers post office box four to seven Evanston Illinois.
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The march of medicine
Dr. Walter Reed: Yellow fever experiment
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WMAQ (Radio station : Chicago, Ill.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the story of Walter Reed. It also includes a public service announcement by entertainer Jimmy Durante.
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Drama series highlighting important moments in medicine. Each program also includes a public service announcement related to medicine or hospitals.
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Producing Organization: WMAQ (Radio station : Chicago, Ill.)
Speaker: Durante, Jimmy, 1893-1980
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-4-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:48
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Chicago: “The march of medicine; Dr. Walter Reed: Yellow fever experiment,” 1967-01-17, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “The march of medicine; Dr. Walter Reed: Yellow fever experiment.” 1967-01-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: The march of medicine; Dr. Walter Reed: Yellow fever experiment. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from