The cause of yellow fever was identified by Dr. Carlos Finlay (1833-1915), a Cuban physician who was instrumental in reducing the incidence of yellow fever in tropical climates throughout the world. In the United States, this was important in the southern states where the weather was often subtropical. The discovery was also crucial in Panama where the U.S. invested heavily to build a canal to reduce the shipping time of goods from the East to California and the West.
While many doctors were puzzling through the transmission of both malaria and yellow fever, Finlay came to the conclusion that neither illness could travel from human to human without a vector (carrier). Finlay identified that the mosquito was the carrier of both illnesses.
Carlos Finlay’s Background
Finlay was born in 1833 in Puerto Principe (now Camagüey), Cuba. His mother was French and his father, a doctor, was Scottish. The couple relocated to Cuba and embraced the country as their own. Continue reading