Page 22 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - April/May 2020 Edition
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22                      The Yellow Fever Outbreak of 1793

                 The Yellow Fever                        cowrote an account of Philadelphia’s  African lasting about seven to ten days, can inflict a
                                                         Americans during the epidemic. Beckoning to mortality rate as high as fifty percent. In the
           Outbreak of 1793: Nine                        the city’s desperate call for help, Jones and Allen second phase, the returning fever is
                                                         accepted the work of burial detail and hired five accompanied by damage to the liver and
         Observations and Lessons                        men to assist the effort. Carey later revised his kidneys. The fever can cause delirium; the liver

                                                         work to include the important role of African damage often leads to yellowing of the eyes and
                by Brian Patrick O'Malley                Americans during the crisis.                     skin, a discoloration for which yellow fever is
                                                                                                          named. In the second phase, a sufferer might
                                                         Two rival physicians offered different bleed from the nose, mouth, eyes, or urinary
                                                         treatments for yellow fever, but comparably tract.
        “I often thought that the situation of a people in
                                                         gripping descriptions of the ordeal. Benjamin
        a bombarded city, was not much worse, and on
                                                         Rush was a champion of bleeding and mercurial The yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia lasted
        some accounts not so bad; we had no respite
                                                         purges. Jean Devèze, a French-born refugee from  August into November 1793. Benjamin
        night nor day.” Writing to a friend in his native
                                                         from the slave revolt in Santo Domingo (now Rush believed that by the second week of
        Massachusetts, newspaper publisher John Fenno
                                                         Haiti) arrived in Philadelphia August 7, 1793. September, Philadelphia had “not less than
        was trying to convey the effect of the 1793
                                                         Devèze advocated milder treatments than Rush 6,000 persons ill with the fever.” Mathew Carey
        yellow fever outbreak on Philadelphia. “Such a
                                                         and his disciples. Despite their different estimated that from August 1 through November
        scene was never before realized in this country;
                                                         approaches to medicine, the two doctors left 9, Philadelphia suffered 4,031 deaths. In the
        and may GOD of his infinite mercy, preserve us
                                                         similar accounts of a distressed city.           fourth edition of his narrative, Carey adjusted
        from experiencing any thing similar.”
                                                                                                          the total to 4,041; Carey reiterated a caveat from
                                                         Yellow fever has two phases, separated by one his first edition, that the count from burial
        Fenno founded the Federalist newspaper Gazette
                                                         day of remission. The first phase, of three to four registers was not the complete number of deaths.
        of the United States in New York City in 1789,
                                                         days, involved fever, nausea, backache, Also consulting burial registries, Rush put the
        and when the federal government moved to
                                                         vomiting, and loss of appetite. Jones and Allen death toll at 4,044.
        Philadelphia in 1790, he relocated there with his
                                                         recalled that sufferers “were taken with a chill, a
        paper.  Another publisher and Philadelphia
                                                         head-ache, a sick stomach, with pains in their Despite Fenno’s hopes that America in the future
        resident, Mathew Carey, a native of Dublin,
                                                         limbs and back. This was the way the sickness in would be spared from anything like
        Ireland, wrote a pamphlet detailing the yellow
                                                         general began.” For many lucky patients, the Philadelphia’s yellow fever outbreak, particular
        fever epidemic called, A Short Account of the
                                                         remission was genuine. For others, the worst of incidents might remind Americans of the initial
        Malignant Fever.
                                                         the fever was ahead. Rush warned, “The public reaction to the 1980s AIDS crisis or the
                                                         remission on the third day, was frequently such 2020 Coronavirus outbreak. Here are nine
        In response Carey’s claim in his pamphlet that
                                                         as to beget a belief that the disease had run its important observations on the 1793 outbreak,
        black nurses charged exorbitant rates, Methodist
                                                         course, and that all danger was over. A violent some of which may ring familiar today.
        ministers Rev. Richard  Allen, later founder
                                                         attack of the fever on the 4th day removed this
        (1816) of the  African Methodist Episcopal
                                                         deception.” The second phase of yellow fever,                           (Continued on Page 23)
        (A.M.E.) Church, and Rev.  Absalom Jones
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