Monday, May 25, 2009

Walter Reed

Today we honor Walter Reed (September 13th, 1831-November 23, 1902) for spearheading the effort that confirmed that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes. This scientific discovery is sometimes credited as the reason the Panama Canal was completed and moved forward the boundaries of epidemiology and bio-medicine.

Reed grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia at age 17. In 1875, Reed earned his commission into the Army. Reed traveled to Cuba and saw first hand the terrible diseases (including yellow fever) that, much to the embarrassment of the US government killed more men than the enemy did during the Spanish-American War.

Reed led The Yellow Fever Commission. This group of men discovered that contrary to other researchers' claims, yellow fever was in face transmitted by mosquitoes, not bacteria. Reed is also credited with discovering that a mosquito has to bite an infected yellow fever patient during the three day yellow fever incubation period and can spread the disease for up to 12 days afterward. These discoveries eventually led to yellow fever becoming a non-threat throughout Cuba.

Today we honor Walter Reed for using his skill and talents to create great wealth for so many.

Sources:
Walter Reed on Wikipedia
A cool little video about Walter Reed
Walter Reed biography

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