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Alexander von Humboldt: „Yellow Fever“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 17.04.2024].

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Titel Yellow Fever
Jahr 1820
Ort Boston, Massachusetts
in: Boston Intelligencer & Evening Gazette 6 (13. Mai 1820), S. [1]
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: III.7
Dateiname: 1811-Fragment_d_un-4-neu
Seitenanzahl: 1
Spaltenanzahl: 2
Zeichenanzahl: 7345

Weitere Fassungen
Fragment d’un ouvrage ayant pour titre: Essais politiques sur le Mexique (Paris, 1811, Französisch)
Bemerkungen über das gelbe Fieber, und dessen Zusammenhang mit der Temperatur (Leipzig, 1813, Deutsch)
Gelbes Fieber in Neu-Spanien (Stuttgart; Tübingen, 1814, Deutsch)
Yellow Fever (Boston, Massachusetts, 1820, Englisch)
From Humboldt’s Essay on New Spain (Washington, District of Columbia, 1820, Englisch)
From Humboldt’s Essay on New Spain (New York City, New York, 1820, Englisch)
Das Klima von Mexico’s Haupthafen Veracruz (Hamburg, 1826, Deutsch)
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WE published, last week, some extracts fromthe personal narrative of Mesns Humboldt and Bompland, respecting the contagion of this diseaseM. Humboldt proceeds in his pertinent observa-tions on this subject, by citing a series of pathologi-cal facts, for the judgment of his readers Thewell-known and acknowledged accuracy of this tra-veller, induces us to consider all his facts as authentic After mentioning the mystery attending the doc-trine of contagion, he enquires how we can explorewhy during the eighteen years which preceededthe year 1794, there was not a single instance ofYellow-Fever at Vera-Cruz, though the concourseof unseasoned Europeans and of Mexicans from theinterior was very considerable; though the sailorsindulged in the same excesses with which they arestill reproached, and though the town was not soclean as it has been since the year 1800? The following is the series of patho-logical facts, considered in their great-est simplicity. When a great numberof persons, born in a cold climate, ar-rive at the same time in a port of thetorrid zone, not particularly dreaded bynavigators, the typhus of America be-gins to appear. Those persons havenot had the typhus during their passage;it manifests itself among them only onthe very spot. Is the atmospheric con-stitution changed? or does a new formof disease display itself among individ-uals, whose irritability is highly increas-ed? The typhus soon begins to exert itsravages among the Europeans, born inmore southern countries. If it propa-gate itself by contagion, it seems sur-prising, that in the towns of the equinoc-tial continent it does not attach itself tocertain streets; and that immediatecontact does not augment the danger,any more than seclusion diminishes it.The sick, when removed to the inlandcountry, and especially to cooler andmore elevated spots, to Xalappa, for in-stance, do not communicate the typhusto the inhabitants of those places, eith-er because it is not contagious in it’s na-ture, or that the predisposing causesare not the same as in the regions ofthe shore. When there is a considera-ble diminution of the temperature, theepidemy usually ceases, even on thespot where it first appeared. It againbegins at the approach of the hot sea-son, and sometimes long before; thoughduring several months there has beenno sick person in the harbour, and noship has entered it. The typhus of America appears tobe confined to the shore, either be-cause those persons who bring the dis-ease disembark there, and goods sup-posed to be impregnated with deleteri-ous miasmata are there accumulated;or because on the seaside gaseous ema-nations of a particular nature are form-ed. The aspect of the places wheretyphus exerts it’s ravages seems oftento exclude all idea of a local or endem-ical origin. It has been seen to prevailin the Canaries, the Bermudas, and a-mong the smaller West India Islands, indry places formerly distinguished forthe great salubrity of their climate.—Examples of the propagation of theyellow fever in the inland parts of thetorrid zone appear very doubtful; thismalady may have been confounded withremitting bilious fevers. With respectto the temperate zone, in which thecontagious character of the typhus ofAmerica is more decided, the diseasehas indubitably spread far from theshore, even into very elevated places,exposed to cool and dry winds, as inSpain, at Medina-Sidonia, at Carlotta,and the city of Murcia. That varietyof phenomena, which the same epidem-ic exhibits, according to the differenceof climates, the union of predisposingcauses, it’s shorter or longer duration,and the degree of it’s exacerbation, should render us extremely circumspectin tracing the secret causes of the A-merican typhus. An enlightened ob-server, who, at the time of the violentepidemics in 1802 and 1803, was chiefphysician to the colony of St. Domingo,and who has studied that disease in theIsland of Cuba, the U. States and Spain,Mr. Bailly, thinks like me, ‘that the ty-phus is very often, but not always, con-tagious.’ Since the yellow fever has madesuch cruel ravages in La Guayra, thewant of cleanliness in that little townhas been exaggerated, like that of VeraCruz, and of the quays or wharfs ofPhiladelphia. In a place where the soilis extremely dry, destitute of vegeta-tion, and where a few drops of waterscarcely fall in seven or eight months,the causes, that produce what are called miasmata, cannot be very frequent.The streets of La Guayra appeared tome in general to be tolerably clean.with the exception of the quarter ofthe slaughter houses. The sea side hasno beach, on which the remains of fuctand of Molluscæ are heaped up; butthe neighboring coast, which stretchesto the east towards Cape Codera, andconsequently to the windward of LaGuayra, is extremely unhealthy. The yellow fever and the black vomitcease periodically at the Havana andVera Cruz, when the north winds bringthe cold air of Canada toward the Gulf |Spaltenumbruch| of Mexico. But from the extreme e-quality of temperature, which charac-terizes the climates of Porto-Cabello,La Guayra, New Barcelona, and Coma-na, it may be feared, that the typhuswill there become permanent, whenever, from a great concourse of stran-gers, it has acquired a high degree ofexacerbation. Happily the mortalityhas diminished since the treatment ofthis epidemic has been varied, accordingto the character it presents in differentyears; and since the different stages ofthe disease have been better studied,which are recognized by symptoms ofinflammation, and of ataxy or debility.It would, I think, be unjust to deny thesuccess, which the new system of medi-cine has obtained over this terriblescourge; yet the persuasion of this suc-cess has not made much progress in thecolonies. It is there said pretty gener-ally, ‘that the physicians now explainthe course of the disease in a more sat-isfactory manner than they did former-ly, but that they do not cure it better:that heretofore the patient was left todie slowly, taking no other remedy thanan infusion of tamarinds; and that inour days a more active practice carrieshim to the grave in a more direct andexpeditious manner.’ This opinion is not founded upon anaccurate knowledge of what was doneformerly in the West India Islands.—The voyage of Father Labat sufficient-ly demonstrates, that in the beginning ofthe 18th century the physicians of theWest Indies did not suffer the sick to dieso tranquilly, as seems to be supposed.They did not then kill by emetics, bark,and opium, employed in two large doses,and unseasonably;—but by frequentbleedings, and the abuse of purgatives.The physicians indeed seemed so wellaware of the effects of their treatmentthat they had the candour ‘to presentthemselves at the bed-side of the sick,accompanied at their first visit by a con-fessor and a notary.’ At present, inneat and well conducted hospitals, theyoften succeed in reducing the number ofdeaths to eighteen or fifteen in a hund-red, and even a little less. But when-ever the sick are crowded together, themortality increases to one half, or evento three quarters, of which the Frencharmy in St. Domingo afforded an exam-ple in 1802.