1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic

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1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic

The 1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic was a severe outbreak of Yellow Fever that occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, in the summer of 1793 and resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

History[edit | edit source]

The epidemic began in the late summer of 1793, when refugees from a yellow fever epidemic in the Caribbean arrived in Philadelphia. The disease quickly spread through the city, causing widespread panic and leading to the flight of thousands of residents. The epidemic peaked in October, with hundreds of deaths occurring each week. By the time the epidemic ended in November, approximately 5,000 people had died, out of a population of 50,000.

Causes[edit | edit source]

The cause of the epidemic was the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the yellow fever virus. The mosquitoes bred in the stagnant water that collected in the city's many open cisterns and wells. The disease was spread when the mosquitoes bit infected people and then bit others.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The epidemic had a profound impact on Philadelphia and the nation. It led to major changes in the city's public health policies, including the establishment of the Philadelphia Board of Health in 1794. The epidemic also led to a shift in the nation's capital from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in 1800.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The term "yellow fever" comes from the jaundice that affects some patients, causing a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic Resources
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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD