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Original Photograph of Major William C. Gorgas with Joseph Yates Porter, First Florida Health Officer, & William Sherman Jennings, 18th Governor of Florida, Discussing Yellow Fever at the Playa del Marianao, Cuba, December 18, 1902

Original photograph of Major William C. Gorgas with Joseph Yates Porter, first Florida health officer, & William Sherman Jennings, 18th Governor of Florida, discussing yellow fever at the Playa del Marianao, Cuba, December 18, 1902

An unpublished original photograph of famed yellow fever expert Major William Gorgas discussing the disease with 2 concerned individuals at the Playa del Marianao in Cuba, 1902. One individual is Joseph Yates Porter, MD, the first appointed state health office in Florida. He was instrumental in controlling yellow fever, reforming sanitation and quarantine practices, and initiating health legislation. Porter was among the first physicians to recognize yellow fever as transmissible by mosquitoes. Dr. Porter’s first three terms from 1889 to 1901 was a period in which the activity of the State Board of Health was centered initially on yellow fever and other contagious diseases such as smallpox and cholera. The other individual is William Sherman Jennings, the 18th Governor of Florida. During this period, yellow fever was a major public health problem in Florida. During an 1888 yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Florida, terrified citizens packed themselves onto trains leaving town. Some were so panicked, they left fires burning and the doors of their houses wide open. The Mayflower Hotel, where the epidemic started, was condemned and ordered burned to the ground.

William Crawford Gorgas KCMG (October 3, 1854 – July 3, 1920) was a United States Army physician and 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army (1914–1918). He is best known for his work in Florida, Havana and at the Panama Canal in abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry these diseases. In 1898, after the end of the Spanish–American War, Gorgas was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, where he worked to eradicate yellow fever and malaria. Gorgas capitalized on the momentous work of another Army doctor, Major Walter Reed, who had built much of his work on the insights of Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. Through his efforts draining both the Aedes mosquito vector breeding ponds and quarantining of yellow fever patients in screened service rooms, cases in Havana plunged from 784 to zero with a year. He won international fame battling the illness, which was then the scourge of tropical and sub-tropical climates. He worked in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba and finally, in 1904, at the site of the construction of the Panama Canal. At the time, his strategy was greeted with considerable skepticism and opposition to such hygiene measures. However, the measures he put into practice as the head of the Panama Canal Zone Sanitation Commission saved thousands of lives and contributed to the success of the Canal's construction.

Contributed by anonymous

Photograph of Major William C. Gorgas