Today we celebrate Cuban physician Carlos Juan Finlay, who was the first to connect mosquitos to yellow fever in the early 1880s.
Finlay was appointed by the Cuban government in 1879 to work with a North American commission studying the causes of yellow fever, and two years later was sent as the Cuban delegate to the fifth International Sanitary Conference in Washington DC.
At the conference, he urged the study of yellow fever vectors and later stated that the carrier was the mosquito Culex fasciatus, now known as Aedes aegypti.
When a US army’s Yellow Fever Board arrived in Cuba in 1900, he sought to persuade it of his mosquito-vector theory.
Finlay’s hypothesis and exhaustive proofs were confirmed by the board’s head, the US army doctor Walter Reed, paving the way for the eradication of yellow fever and saving generations of lives throughout South America, the Caribbean, Africa and the southern US.
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