This letter, written in 1888, was wrote by the president of the Escambia County Board of Health to Florida’s Governor (Perry), it says: this Board is desirous of raising quarantine against all points in Florida that are not infected, will you therefore have the kindness to send me the names of all places known to be infected.
In 1888, yellow fever plagued Florida visitors and residences. At first, people thought the brutal Florida heat was the cause of malaria aka “yellow fever,” but nobody knew for sure. Some people even believed it was contagious.
A book titled The New History of Florida, says that in the summer of 1888, Jacksonville had 4,656 cases of yellow fever and 427 deaths – in a couple months.
The heat was NOT the cause malaria, but it was a big factor in someone recovering from the illness.
The 1888 summer plaque would have been the beginning if not for “the father of air conditioning and refrigeration.” Thanks to John Gorrie’s mechanically produced chilled air, patient’s condition improved.
The plaque would continue to haunt the Southeast until…
A 1902 breakthrough found the source of yellow fever, mosquitoes. Sir Ronald Ross made the discovery, which won the Nobel Prize for Psychology or Medicine. At last, a reason behind the madness. Although, the number of cases had receded since the 1888 epidemic, people were relieved to know the source. Now Floridians knew what to avoid.
One historian, Raymond Asrenault, called it, “the end of the long hot summer.” (pg. 435)
Reference: The New History of Florida copyright 1996