MILLPONDS AND MALARIA IN THE NEW WORLD - A CLOSER LOOK AT BENJAMIN RUSH'S CLAIMS
Malaria has been historically a disease of both tropical and temperate climes. In 1785 New England physician, Benjamin Rush wrote a short essay on the causes of the disease in the American colonies. The essay, “An inquiry into the causes of the increase of bilious and intermitting fevers in Pennsylvania”, presents an ecological argument for mitigating the spread of a disease that wasn’t clearly understood at the time. Rush believed the disease arose from “mill-ponds”. Most of his contemporaries, however, following the traditions of the Old World, where intermittent fevers were associated with brackish water, ignored his important observation. Because mosquitoes were not known to vector the disease until the end of the 19th Century, the ecological differences between the Old and New World species went unnoticed, along with Rush’s insights. Our focus is the demographic ecology of malaria in the American Colonies. Through literature review including the identification of counties with high levels of mill ponds, maps of malaria by county, and anecdotal documented cases, we are constructing a clearer image of the association between malaria and mill ponds and Rush's claims.
Agueda Rodriguez (Primary Presenter/Author), Southern Utah University, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Spencer Wells (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), College of William and Mary, email@example.com;
Samuel Wells (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Southern Utah University, firstname.lastname@example.org;