U.S. Army Physician James Carroll Allowed An Infected Mosquito To Feed On Him

On August 27, 1900, U.S. Army physician James Carroll allowed an infected mosquito to feed on him in an attempt to isolate the means of transmission of yellow fever.

Carroll developed a severe case of yellow fever, helping his colleague, Army pathologist Walter Reed, prove that mosquitoes transmit this often-deadly disease.

Prior to these findings, epidemics of yellow fever were common in the American South. Uncertain of how the disease was transmitted, many people would leave the South for the summer, the season in which the epidemics were most common, returning after the first frost.

During the 1888 yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Florida, the government offered railroad transportation out of the area. In a 1940 interview, William F. Hawley describes the scene of panic at the train station.

James Carroll (b. Woolwich, England, June 5, 1854; d. Washington, D.C., September 16, 1907), Major, United States Army, was an American physician and a member of the Yellow Fever Commission in Cuba, along with Walter Reed, Jesse William Lazear, and Aristides Agramonte. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland. He, along with Lazear, subjected himself to the bite of infectious mosquitoes in the course of his work; this infection eventually killed him.

[The trains] were packed to the limit, even the roofs of the cars [were] crowded with terrified citizens…Some people in their haste left their homes with fires burning, food in preparation for the noonday meal, and doors wide open. ”

— William F. Hawley