Tuesday, December 16, 2008

9 Brave Men

Hugh Pennington writes in the LRB about a daring US Army experiment in Cuba back in 1900 - not something, I discovered, that V was pleased to hear about as she tucked into her granola this morning:

"The general view at the time was that yellow fever was spread by fomites – in this instance, infected clothing and bedding. But Walter Reed had evidence that it was transmitted by mosquitoes. To convince the doubters he constructed an ‘Infected Clothing and Bedding Building’. Sheets, pillowcases and blankets deliberately contaminated with the vomit, urine and faeces of yellow fever patients were shaken to distribute their contents into the air and used to make up beds in which three US army volunteers slept for 21 nights. Two more volunteers slept in yellow fever patients’ garments for 21 nights, and another two did the same using pillows covered with towels soiled with blood from a patient. None of the volunteers got sick."

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