YELLOW JACK: How Yellow Fever Ravaged America and Walter Reed Discovered Its Deadly Secrets

John R. Pierce, Author, James V. Writer, Author, Gregory Ed. Pierce, Author . Wiley $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-471-47261-2

There isn't much new in this workmanlike examination of yellow fever, which focuses on the American impact of this deadly hemorrhagic disease closely related to the West Nile virus. While mostly a tropical disease, yellow fever reached as far north as Philadelphia in 1793. But particularly in the South, deadly plagues were the norm year after year. Pierce, a physician and retired colonel with the U.S. Army, and coauthor Writer describe the debates over the cause of the disease, which many thought originated in the Caribbean, and the work to determine the mode of transmission. In 1900, after the Spanish-American War, Walter Reed headed the Yellow Fever Board sent to Havana and rather quickly confirmed earlier suspicions that mosquitoes were responsible; in remarkably short order the board rid the entire island of yellow fever. But the disease's virulence and the harsh working conditions threatened the researchers themselves. The authors explain this in their hyperbolic style: "Eight loyal and fearless soldiers in the war against an invisible foe had, in the noblest sentiments of the profession, died in hopes of saving others.... [N]o other virus in the history of laboratory research has taken away so many of those working to solve its mysteries." B&w illus. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-470-35473-5
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