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Dr. Jesse Lazear, Yellow Fever and the Mosquito Hypothesis

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In recognition of a new campaign aimed at vaccinating 12 million persons in Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone by WHO’s Yellow Fever Initiative, Welkin Johnson, Associate Blogger for Small Things Considered and Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School, has a new post that focuses on Dr. Jesse Lazear, a member of the U.S. Army’s Yellow Fever Commission in Cuba, a team headed by U.S. Army surgeon Walter Reed Walter, and his human test subject experiments to discover how malaria is spread.

"Lazear experimentally transmitted yellow fever to a handful of human subjects by exposing them to the bites of mosquitoes that had previously fed on patients with yellow fever. Experiments conducted by others had failed and the mosquito hypothesis, championed since 1881 by the Cuban physician Carlos Findlay, had fallen out of contention. Although Lazear’s notes are unclear on the point, Reed and others believe he played a hand in his own death, intentionally including himself among the experimental subjects. Reed's experimentally transmitted yellow fever to a handful of human subjects by exposing them to the bites of mosquitoes that had previously fed on patients with yellow fever."

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