KOMPAS.com – Today, 227 years ago, to be precise October 11, 1793, the death toll was caused by an epidemic yellow fever or yellow fever of Philadelphia up to 100 people.
By the end of the pandemic, a total of 5,000 deaths from this disease had occurred there.
Yellow fever otherwise known as the “American Plague” at that time, was a contagious disease that started with fever and muscle aches.
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After that, the patients will experience jaundice. Hence, this epidemic is referred to as yellow fever.
Because, the liver and kidneys of these patients stopped functioning normally.
Some sufferers then also experience worse symptoms such as vomiting blood. This condition is caused due to internal bleeding in the digestive tract.
Many victims were delirious before finally dying.
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The start of the outbreak
Illustration of a mosquito, mosquito-borne disease
Launch History, the first outbreak of yellow fever in the United States ( AS) occurred in the late 1690s.
Nearly 100 years later, in the late summer of 1793, refugees from the yellow fever epidemic in the Caribbean went to Philadelphia.
Within a week, people in the city started experiencing yellow fever symptoms.
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However, the cause of this outbreak is not known with certainty.
A well-known doctor in Philadelphia at the time, Benjamin Rush believed that this disease was caused by poor sanitary conditions and contaminated city air.
As the disease began to spread, Philadelphia residents went to great lengths to prevent exposure.
They started to keep their distance from each other and avoid handshakes.
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In addition, they also covered their faces with handkerchiefs dipped in vinegar or smoked tobacco.
According to them, this effort prevents air contaminated with the virus from being inhaled.
However, the outbreak continues to grow and by mid-October, 100 people are dying from the virus every day.
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Evacuation and treatment methods
The treatment of these large numbers of patients weighed heavily on public services, and eventually the city government collapsed.
In fact, at that time, Philadelphia was the seat of the US administration. However, the federal authorities only evacuated the city amid the epidemic that occurred.
There are about 20,000 people or nearly half of the city’s total population who took part in the evacuation, including most of the doctors.
However, Benjamin Rush stayed behind and looked after the patients.
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Rush himself lost his sister to this disease.
He also fell ill and managed to recover.
Despite all his efforts, Rush’s harsh treatment drew a lot of criticism.
His treatment included drawing part of the patient’s blood, “Mercurial Sweating Powder”, and forced vomiting.
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The methods used by Rush are considered unable to stop the spread of the disease and actually increase the pain experienced by its patients.
Extensive research continues to be conducted to determine the source and cure of the disease at that time. However, it took more than a century to prove that mosquitoes are carriers of this yellow fever, namely in the 1900s.
In fact, the mosquito population in Philadelphia had been eradicated and the number of deaths decreased to 20 cases per day on October 26, 1793.
Currently, vaccines to prevent yellow fever are also available in most regions of the world, although each year there are still thousands of people who die from this disease.
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