Yellow Fever and Malaria in the United States

Malaria, or Yellow fever, ran amok in the United States between 1693 and 1905 according to an article by K. D. Patterson of the University of North Carolina. The disease was not indigenous to the United States but imported on ships arriving from the Caribbean. Prior to 1822, Yellow Fever epidemics struck as far north as Boston Massachusetts but after 1822, they struck mostly in the south. Yellow Fever claimed the lives of some 100,000 to 150,000 people before it was brought under control.

On July 1, 1947, The National Malaria Eradication Program was formed to combat and eradicate the disease in the United States. The program was initiated by thirteen southern states in conjunction with the CDC (Communicable Disease Center) of the United States Public Health Service. The National Malaria Eradication Program goal was to bring the epidemics under control by the application of DDT to the interiors of rural homes and to entire structures where there had been recent known cases of Malaria. Over 4.6 million applications of DDT had been applied by the end of 1949. The CDC slowly withdrew from active participation in the program until its sole role was one of surveillance by 1949. It ceased participating completely by 1951.

The outbreak of World War II increased the efforts being made to eradicate Malaria in the United States. With so many training bases located in the Southeastern states, Malaria was a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of the United States soldiers and a serious hindrance to the war effort. With the help of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Association), the draining of mosquito infested swamp areas and aerial spraying of infested areas were stepped up.

The efforts of the TVA and the formation of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) as an independent agency on July 1, 1946 had eliminated Malaria as a major health threat in the US by the end of the war.

Malaria, as a life threatening disease has been all but totally eradicated in the United States. In 2005, 1,528 cases were reported to the CDC and of those 1,528 cases, only seven were fatal. Only seven people died of Yellow Fever in 2005, very different from the 100’s of thousands that died in the United States prior to 1949. American citizens returning from foreign lands imported the majority of the cases of malaria reported in the United States in 2005 into the United States.


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