Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An American Plague

Over at the World Health Organization website there is an article about N1H1. Last year 209 countries reported cases of the disease resulting in 14,142 deaths worldwide. 216 years ago in just one city a third of that number died from another scourge, as chronicled in An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. At that time, the plagued city was the capital of a brand new country. Philadelphia was filled with important people like oh, President George Washington for instance. It was also filled with refugees from Saint-Domingue fleeing the slave uprisings, mounds of rotting coffee, stagnant water and open sewers.

Jim Murphy tells what the streets were like, how the disease began and then spread, how it affected those who succumbed to it and how doctors, government officials and everyday citizens reacted. But perhaps most interesting of all was the significant part played by The Free African Society. Thinking they were immune to the diesease because they were black, they kept the city going when so many deserted it.

This attractive and interesting book is filled with etchings and newspaper articles from those terrible weeks.

Awards: Newbery Honor Book

Ages 9-12

Activity: Yellow Fever has not been the only killer spread by mosquitoes. Malaria and West Nile Virus and others are too. For $5 an insecticide treated bed net can be supplied to protect a person living in a high risk area. You can make a donation here.

No comments:

Post a Comment