|Date(s):||August 3, 1881|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
On August 3rd, the National Board of Health reopened the quarantine station at Vicksburg, Mississippi that had been abolished earlier. The location at Vicksburg was closed, because the board, supervised by Dr. Frank Reily, was unable to safely man the station. Of the inspectors sent to the quarantine, all contracted malarial fever. The board found it unnecessary to continue the station at Vicksburg, considering its close proximity to the efficiently operating station in New Orleans. However, because of the number of complaints, including those from Vicksburg Mayor T. G. Birchett, the board insisted that Inspector Dunlap of Memphis travel to Vicksburg to reopen the station.
Numerous cases and outbreaks of malaria are documented in early American history. Immediately prior to the Civil War, the number of cases decreased, and malaria was considered to be on the decline. The war, however, introduced a new legacy of poverty, and health problems abounded, particularly in the South, where the region's health was severely weakened. The number of malaria cases increased rapidly. According to the Encyclopedia of the South, malaria became the leading cause of debility and loss of efficiency in the antebellum South.' Malaria struck people all over the South, but tenant farmers, already poor and debilitated, were especially hurt by the epidemic. In Mississippi, the erection of new cities along accessible railroad lines led to overcrowding of the cities, creating an unhealthy, disease-ridden environment. Malaria was not the only problem; yellow fever and tuberculosis struck the South as well, and the combination of these diseases slowed Southern progress and worsened conditions in the South. Thus, an already struggling South was further weakened.