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Biennial report of the Louisiana State Board of Health. 1883/84 online

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at the Quarantine Station such time, not less than ten days, as may be deemed by him
necessary."

Section four of the act of 1858 provides : " That in oase of emergency the Board of
Health shall have power to issue proclamation of quarantine without reference to the
Governor, and to enact all needful regulations for the enforcement of the same."

An important and, as the events of 1858 show, a fatal modification was made in sec-
tion five, as follows :

"That vessels out ten days, presenting clean bills of health, not having, nor haviny had,
sickness on board, and which are not in foul condition, shall be permitted to pass to the city after
thorough fumigation by disinfecting agents ; to effect which purpose the Resident Physi-
cian shall detain said vessel as long as he may deem necessary." .

In 1855, New Orleans lost 2670 of her citizens by yellow fever, while in 1856 she lost
only 74, and in 1857 199, by the same disease.

The short experience of two years (1856 and 1857) of comparative immunity from yel-
low fever, appears to have given power to the opponents of quarantine, and served to
obliterate the terrible scenes of 1853, 1854 and 1855, and led the Legislature of Louisiana
to enact the important and fatal modification of counting the ten days of detention uot
at the quarantine stations, but from the point of departure to the port of New Orleans.

It is well known that the period of comparative exemption from yellow fever iu 1856
and 1857 was immediately followed by the epidemic of 1858, which, in the history of
New Orleans, ranks second only to 1853 in severity, and claimed 4855 victims.

A period of eight years followed of comparative exemption from yellow fever, the
deaths being as foliows: 1859. 92; I860, 15; 1861, 0; 1862, 2; 1863, 2; 1864, 6; 1865, 1;
1866, 185.

During four of these years (1860-65) the city «.f New Orleans was excluded from active
participation in foreign commerce by the existence and disastrous fortunes of the great
American civil war Cholera, however, appenrcd in 1866, and continued through 1867,
receding in its influeuce as the yellow fever advanced, and again exciting alarm by the
nuinlwr of its victims as the yellow fever subsided, 234 deaths from cholera being re-
ported in November, and 210 deaths in December.



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CLX History of Quarantine in Louisiana, Joseph Jones, M. D.

In 1867 yellow fever appeared in June, and before the end of the year destroyed 3107
of the citizens of New Orleans.

The Quarantine act of 1870 was important, in that it conferred upon the Board of
Health the "power to appoint Sanitary Inspectors n in the District of New Orleans and
in the City and Parish of Jefferson, " In lien of the four health officers now appointed by
the Council of New Orleans*" and we find, also, that in accordance with sections nine
and thirteen, of the act of 1855, the number of days of quarantine of vessels liable to it
was fixed, "not to be less than ten days." It appears, however, that practically the
period from port to p*rt was counted in the ten days.

b. The empirical use of carbolic acid for the arrest of the spread of yellow fever in
New Orleans led to most important modifications in the quarantine system of Louisiana,
and to such modifications may be traced the wide-spread and fatal epidemic of 1878, as
well as the epidemics of 1873 in Memphis and 8hreveport.

Carbolic acid appears to have been first used for the "arrest of yellow fever" as a
"disinfectant" during the memorable epidemic of 1867, under the direction of 8. E.
Smith, M. D„ President of the Board of Health. Yellow fever appeared in June. The
first case died in the Charity Hospital on the tenth of this month.

Dr. Smith states that " Every house where a oaee woe reported ae having occurred was, under
the direction of the health officer*, cleansed and fumigated with sulphurous acid gas and carbolic
acid. The premises, likewise, were subjected to the provisions of the health ordinance, and the
privies purified with the sulphate of iron."

Dr. Smith held that " The slow development of the cause of the fever, its apparent
temporary suspension in particular localities, the exceeding mild character of the dis-
ease, leads to the hope that it may be kept in check, if not entirely eradicated, in the
first cases, by the prompt application of disinfectants."

At this time Professor £. 8. Lewis, Health Officer of the Third Distnot, expressed him-
self as in favor of the carbolic acid disinfection for the arrest of yellow fever. Professor
Lewis bays : "The number of houses disinfected of yellow fever from the middle of
August to November 1 was about 300. These houses were not only fumigated and disin-
fected with sulphate of iron, in solution, but were pumped from top to bottom with car-
bolic acid, which impregnated the atmosphere for some distance off. This was repeated
as often as new cases occurred."

Notwithstanding these measures the disease became epidemic An immense number
of oases occurred, and 3107 deaths were reported as directly caused by yellow fever, in
addition to 990 deaths caused by the various forms of paroxysmal and continued fevers.

With the overthrow of the Democratic party by the action of the so-called reconstruc-
tion acts, and with the installment of the Republican party, the sanitary affairs came
into the hands of Dr. C. B. White, late Sanitary Director of the New Orleans Auxil-
iary Association.

In 1869 only three deaths were recorded as due to yellow fever.

During the summer and autumn of 1870 the deaths from yellow fever, as reported by
the Board of Health, numbered 587 ; but it is worthy of note that other forms of fever,
chiefly malarial fever, caused 591 deaths; total from fevers in 1870, 1178: of this num-
ber 211 were recorded as due to pernicious and congestive fevers. The lavish use ot car-
bolic acid by the Board of Health for the "arrest of yellow fever" is well known, and the
total sums of money expended have been before recorded. According to the published
statement of the President, all oases that came to the knowledge of the Board of Health
were treated by the free use of suoh disinfectants as chlorine, sulphurous acid, carbolic
acid and lime*.

The monthly mortality by yellow fever was as follows: August, 3; September, 231;
October, 242; November, 106; December, 5; total, 587. In other words, yellow fever
followed its usual course of rise and decline, and the heaviest mortality occurred in the
month of October, after the thorough installation of the carbolic add disinfection.

In 1871 the oases of yellow fever reported were 114 and the deaths 54 ; the disease was
chiefly confined to the Fourth District, but sporadic cases occurred in other portions of
the city, as in numberless other years, in this and other Southern cities, in which neither
carbolic acid nor any other disinfectants were nsed. In 1871 the disease was still more
limited, only 63 cases and 39 deaths having been officially reported.

In 1873 the first case of yellow fever occurred on board the Spanish bark Valparaiso.

According to the statement of Dr. C. B. White, President of the Board of Health.
"This bark left Havana June 15, in ballast, and arrived at quarantine, on the Mississippi
River, June 14, and was detained there two days, after which she was released and per-
mitted to come to the city, arriving June 26." The mate, Arua, was taken sick with
Jellow fever on the fourth of July. It is evident, therefore, that if this bark bad beeo
eld at the Mississippi Quarantine 8tation for ten full days, according to the laws of
Louisiana, not only would New Orleans have escaped the fever, but Memphis and
8hreveport would have, in all probability, escaped the terrible epidemic of 187X Of tba
388 oases and 2S6 deaths the monthly record was as follows : July, 8 cases, 9 deaths ;
August, 40 oases, 19 deaths ; October, 135 cases, 79 deaths ; November, 22 cases, 17



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History of Quarantine in Louisiana : Joseph Jones, M. D. CLXI

deaths. Yellow fever followed its usual course, increasing up to a certain period, and
then declining with the fall of temnerature, and ceasing with the appearance of frost.
No connection between the decline and cessation of this disease and the vast amounts of
carbolic acid used for purposes of "disinfection" could be traced.

In 1874 Dr. Alfred Perry instituted what he called a new plan of disinfection at the
Mississippi Quarantine Station, from June 16 to October 31, and affirmed that "this disin-
fection was more complete than has ever before been performed an v where in the world."
The essential portion of this system of disinfection consisted in forcing the sulphurous
acid gas, resulting from the burning of sulphur in an iron furnace, down the hold of
ships by means of a wind blast or blower. Dr. Perry held that whilst in 1871 yellow
fever was imported into New Orleans through the quarantine by the brig Hope, and in
1872 by the steamship Havana, and in 1673 by the bark Valparaiso, that no yellow fever
came through the quarantine during this period of service (June 23 to October 13),
although it was brought in by the bark Queenstown, October 16, after his disinfection
had ceased.

The results of the experiments of Dr. Perry were received as conclusive by the Presi-
dent of the Board of Health, by the Chamber of Commerce, and by a considerable por-
tion of the Medical Profession, and the Legislature was petitioned to abolish the specific
period of detention.

The Hon. G. W. R. Bay ley read an elaborate defense of the system of disinfection
practiced by the Board of Health, and thus defines the theory upon which the Board of
Health acted :

''The theory that yellow fever is propagated by germs from infected centres, along surfaces in all direc-
tions, and that it is not conveyed in the atmosphere otherwise, seems best to explain its phenomena. The
disease is local and musf be destroyed, and its spread prevented by local remedies. Carbolic or phenio acids
' UU in loco parasites (or germs) of both systems 1 — animal or vegetable— as announced by Professor GriUier,
of Paris, lnl874.

" The New Orleans Board of Health have sinoe, and including 1870, acted noon this knowledge— only
ecently discovered elsewhere— and applied carbolic acid to germ-infected surfaces, and to surfaces sur-
rounding infected centres or surfaces, for the purpose of destroying and preventing the multiplication and



recently discovered elsewhere— and applied carbolic acid to germ-infected surfaces, and to surfaces sur-
rounding infected centres or surfaces, for the purpose of destroying and preventing the multiplication and
dissemination of yellow fever disease germs, and knowing that it would T kiU in loco • all germs, whether
animal or vegetable, with which it came in contact, and that none of them could cross such a disinfected
surface."

The President of the Board of Health, Dr C. B. White, in his Annual Report of 1875,
says:

"The paper of Hon. Mr. Bayley, of this Board, read before the Chamber of Commerce of this city, and
the resolutions adopted by that body are of special interest, aa both, based upon the supposed advances in
theory, method ana results of disinfection will be brought before the Legislature to essentially modify the
definite time— detention feature of existing quarantine laws."— Annual Report, 1875, p. 15.

RESOLUTIONS OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

" Resolved, by the Chamber of Commerce of New Orleans, That the system of disinfection to prevent the
propagation and spread of infectious diseases in our city, practiced with so much apparent success since
1870. should be oontinued and encouraged by the State authorities; also, that the efforts of the Board of
Health to prevent epidemics are approved and commended."
• + * *» * * • • • *

*' Be it furthur Resolved, That this Chamber recommends to the present Legislature to grant authority
to the Board of Health to permit, at its discretion, the passage of vessels from infected ports to the city,
after the same have been satisfactorily and thoroughly fumigated and disinfected, in lieu of the prescribed
time-detention called for by the existing quarantine law."

The following petition to the Board of Health, in regard to quarantine, is a remark-
able document, and was published in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal
(new series), vol. 2, 1874-5, pp. 960-964:

NEW ORLEANS, April 26, 1875.
To the President and Members of the Board of Health of the City of New Orleans •*

Gentlemen— The undersigned, practicing nhysioians of the city of New Orleans, beg leave to submit :

1. That after many years of experiment, It has been clearly proven that quarantine does not protect this
city from yellow fever.

2. That the commerce of this city upon which her prosperity and the livelihood of more than half of her
population, directly or indirectly depend, must continue to be most seriously damaged by the repetition of
said quarantine.

In view of these facts, we pray your honorable body not to recommend in fntnre the imposition of any
greater restriction upon vessels arrived from infected ports than to require them to be disinfected at the
quarantine stations, and to remove to hospital at the same points any oases of yellow fever which may
«xist on board ; the detention for this purpose not to exceed twenty-four hours, and unaffected passengers,
hi the meantime, allowed to proceed to the city.



J.N. Folwell, M. D.. ttl Carondelet street
Edward Harrison, M. D., 112 Canal street



(Signed)
T. Alpuente, D. M. P., 142 Royal street.

A. looter Axson, M. D., 178 Annunciation street . _ _

B- B. Beach, M. D., 18 Claiborne street. Alexander Hart. M. D., 10 Camp street.

C. Beard, M. D.. 14 Dauphine street F. Hawthorn. M. D , University Building.
8. M, Bemiss, M. D., 558 St Charles street. D C. Hollidav, M D , 112 Camp »treet.
Henry Boson, M. D., 144 Dumaine street. A. C. Holt, M. D., 842 Felicity street
C.J. Bickham, M. D , 710 Magasine street. O. Howard, D. M. 1\, 117 Koyal street.
W. P. Brown, M. D. , 603 St. Charles street. Wm. E. Kennedy, M. D. , 108 Julia street
J. Borde. D. M. P.. 130 Customhouse street. T. S. Kennedy, M D., 1C8 Julia strict.

D. Warren BrickoU, M. D , 14 Dauphine street. P. A. Lambert, D. if. P., 117 Royal street

90



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CLXI1 History of Quarantine in Louisiana: Joseph Jones, M. D.

A. Capderille D. M. P., 449 St. Charles street Thomas Layton, D. M. P., 709 Magaslne street.
J. Carter, M. D., 694 Magazine street J. Hampden Lewis, D. M. P., 989 Royal street.
John J. Castellaoos, M, I)., 73 Orleans street B. S. Lewis, M. D., 70 Frenchmen street

S. E. Chaill6, M. D., University Building. F. Loeber, M. D., 161 Baronne street.

Alcee Chastant. M. D., 485 Magazine street Samuel Logan, M. D., University Building.
H. C. d'Aquin, D. M. P., 41 North Rampart street. J. J. Lyons. M. D., 919 Carondelet street

John DeirOrto, D. M. P., 143 Jnlia street. Sabin Martin, D. M. P., 96 Burgundy street

J. P. Davidson, M. D, 84*2 Prytania street. Armand Mercier, D. M. P., 2206lrod street.

D. H. Dennis. M D , 945 Baronne street W. S. Mitchell, M. D., 10 Carondelet street.

E. DeHlano, M. D.. 159 Dumaine street T. J. Moreau, M. D., 118 Marsis street

C. Faget D. M. P.-. 159 Burgundy street. T. G. Richardson, M. D., University Building.

J. A. C. Fisher. M. D., 168 Felicity street. P. Yeiser, M. D., Louisiana avenue.

H 1). Schmidt M D., 90 North Rampart street. M. Schuppert, M. E, 179 Carondelet street

B. Scratchley. D. M. P., 377 Dryades street J. F. Signer, M. D., 89 Carondelet street
E. T. Shepard, M. D., 1140 Magazine street Howard Smith, M. D., 91 Prytania street.
E. Souchon, M. D., University Building. J. C. Stiokney. M D., 168 Orange atreei.
Benjamin Stille, M. D„ 904 Prytania street F. L. Taney. M. D., 377 Dryades street.

C. H. Tebault, M. D., 469 Baronne street J. Touartre, D. M. P., 149 Dumaine stteet.

J. Trudeau, M. D , 139 South Rampart street D Tureaud, M. D., 139 South Rampart street.

Charles Turpin, D. M. P., 41 North Rampart street. W. D- Watkins, M. D., Rousseau street.
J. H. Wiendall, M. D., 304 Bayou road. W. B. Wood, M. D., 768 Magazine street.

8. S. Wood. M. D., 768 Magazine street.

The New Orleans Medical and SurgioalJournal, edited by S. M. Beniiss, M, D., Vol. II, New Series.
1874-5. May, 1875, pp. 960-969.

The editor of the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal not only published the
petition to the Board of Health in regard to quarantine, *• in order to exhibit the senti-
ment of a large number of our leading physicians in respect to the true value of quaran-
tine," bat strongly indorsee! the same by his signature and by a special editorial, from
which we extract the following :

" As an illustration of the drift of medical opinion, it is a movement which cannot be too highly estimated'
Whatever of wisdom— whatever of actual benefit to man in a sanitary point of view may hars been accorded
to the practice of quarantine in former days, we are forced to admit its entire infeasibfiity and impractica-
bility at the present time. The folly exhibited by attempts to blockade the mat natural highway of com-
merce, which the Mississippi river affords, and yet permitting unrestricted ingress of persons and families
by the general railways which centre here, is too apparent to require discussion. • e •

Recognizing these truths, the medical profession desire to do away with restrictions on commerce which
render no compensation in the way of protection against disease, what other means of protection do we
propose to substitute f Surely nothing promises such good results as those measures which are practiced
under the term 'disinfection/ * * * *

* 4 The good results asori cable to the use of disinfectants point to this method as the proper substitute for
quarantine.

" The medical profession of this city includes a member whose experience, accurate chemical knowl-
edge, great seal and ingenuity in the application of means, qualify him most admirably for attaining the
best results possible to be reached by disinfection. I refer to the gentleman who during the last year did
himself so much credit in this kind of service . If an epidemic seems imminent on account of threatened
"is employment, with a carte blanche as to the means to be need, would afford a
ant or benefit to be obtained by disinfection.

' Louisiana demand revision and alteration. It is strikingly absurd to attempt
its questions which are still sub judioe at the bar of soienoe, This absurdity
ty statute which expressly provides that members constituting a scientific cam
r another opinion in regard to unsettled questions connected with their duties -
rious feature in the statute must be found in the fact that it was passed shortly
L858, when people were bewildered in regard to the best mode of securing exe-p
le. In the matter of fixing the duration of detention at quarantine they " (te*
lealth) " possess some powers, but the law explicitly states the period snail not
sw Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, edited by 8. M. Bemlss. M. D. Tot

>rts of the Board of Health, the Chamber of Commerce and "«
iing physicians," led to the enactment of the following law, in
fie fact that the poisons of specific diseases act in accordance with
* introduction into the system require a certain period (period of
i Testation of their characteristic and recognizable phenomena was
as its period of incubation as well as tne vaccine virus, and
rally manifests itself within from two to nine days after exposure

arautine Act of 1855 were, therefore, wanting neither in science
agnized a well-known law of disease, and wisely framed their or-
>n of the State of Louisiana and the Valley of the Mississippi
by including as an essential element of quarantine, a period of
ten days at Quarantine Station.

trians and Legislators of Louisiana, in 1876, condemned these
tions," developed by the careful observations of such men as Rash
he results of nve years 1 experimentation with earbolie acid, and
>nths' trial with a "new process of disinfection" at the Missis-
n, substituted the following :

mpower the Board of Health of the State of Louisiana to detain and disinfWt.
ctlon, reesels from infected ports, and from Quarantine Station, m Ilea of a
tiou, in certain oases, and to repeal oonfiiotlng laws.

ths Ssnat* and Htnus qf RsprssmUaUsss e/ (as Stats of Louisiana, w» lh>*mti
Board of Health of the State of Louisiana be and is hereby aatnorised nod



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History of Quarantine in Louisiana: Joseph Jones, M. D. CLXIII

empowered, at its discretion at any time, to cause the detention at quarantine stations, for purposes of (lis.
infection and fumigation, and to disinfect, fumigate and purify any and all vessels from ports in which yel-
low fever usually prevails, or from ports where other contagions or infections diseases are reported to'ex-
1st; and after snch disinfection, fumigation and purification at quarantine, to permit the passage to the
city of New Orleans of such vessel or vessels, without any prescribed time of detention, when it ia satisfied
that the same have been properly and sufficiently disinfected and purified, so that said vessel or vessels
may safely be permitted to pass without damage to the public health or risk of contagion.

Sac. 3 Beit further enacted, etc., That all laws or parts of laws con flic tine with this act, he and the same
are so far as respects the operation of this act, hereby repealed, and that this act shall take effect from and
altar its paaaage.

(Signed) E. D. ESTILETTE,

Speaker of the House of Representatives
(Signed) C C. ANTOINE,

Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate.
Approved March 34, 1876. WILLIAM P. KELLOGG,

▲ true copy : Governor of the State of • Louisiana.

P. G. Dbslonde, Secretary of State.

Such measures prepared the way for the great epidemic of 1878.

6. The yellow fever epidemic of 1878 in New Orleans and in the Mississippi Valley was
traceable to the introdnction of the disease through the Mississippi Quarantine Station,
in consequence of the substitution of so-called ''disinfection" for the minimum period of
detention of not less than ten days.

The late Dr. Samuel Choppin, in his report to His Excellency, Frances T. Nicholla,
Governor of the State of Louisiana, 6aid :

"The Board of Health accepts the theory that yellow fever is a zymotic disease, contagions in its nature
by the multiplication of its germs, the infecting distance of which is at first short; that It travel* on sur-
faces, and, luce the orange, the banana and the augar cane, is exotic, its cradle being the Antilles. * * *

" The experience of 1877 affords valuable teachings in the absence of our wonted scourge. First, it tes-
tifies that yellow fever may be entirely destroyed here by the frost of an unusually vigorous winter, from
which it follows that this is not an original habitat of the infection. Secondly, it testifies the utility of a
suitable quarantine system. Thirdly, it testifies that, by the combined action of frost, quarantine and
disinfection when required, we may reasonably hope to keep the mastery over this pestilence, which has
made our oity a dread to its inhabitants, and an abhorrence to strangers, at incalculable cost to its commer-
cial prosperty. * * *

44 The advantage of a system of quarantine, with the omission of the objectionable feature of detention,
and reliance on inspection and disinfection, was so strongly commended to the Legislature in 1876 as to
obtain its legal sanction, and the experience of two years justifies our confidence in it* efficiency. Veaaels
arriving from infected ports have been subjected to fumigation by sulphur and the disinfection of the bilges
by carbolic acid, while the personal baggage and beds of their crews and passengers have been treated with
dilute carbolic acid. This has been continued from the issuance of the Governar's proclamation at the
Mississippi Quarantine from June 15 to November 15, 1877, and at the Rigolets and Atchafalaya from June
15 to November 15. "—[Annual Report of the Board of Health of the State of Louisiana to the General
Aaaembly for the year 1877, pp. 13-15.

The origin of the fearful epidemic of 1878, which swept np the jrreat Valley, embracing
in its deadly coils a space of country extending from New Orleans, on the Gulf of Mex-
ico, to Chattanooga on the East, and' St. Louis on the Northwest, Was thus detailed by
Dr. Choppin, in his Report to His Excellency, Francis T. Nicholls, Governor of the State
of Louisiana, on January 1, 1#79



Online LibraryMoritz RohrBiennial report of the Louisiana State Board of Health. 1883/84 → online text (page 31 of 61)