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About William Crawford Gorgas
William Crawford Gorgas KCMG (October 3, 1854 – July 3, 1920) was a United States physician and 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army (1914-18). He is best known for his work in abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry them at a time when there was considerable skepticism and opposition to such measures. Born at Toulminville, Alabama, Gorgas was the first of six children of Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas.
After studying at The University of the South and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Doctor Gorgas was appointed to the US Army Medical Corps in June 1880. Gorgas was assigned to three posts -- Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown -- in Texas. While at Fort Brown (1882-84), he survived yellow fever and met Marie Cook Doughty, whom he married in 1885. In 1898 after the end of the Spanish-American War Gorgas was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria.
Gorgas was made Surgeon General of the Army in 1914, in which position he was able to capitalize on the momentous work of another Army doctor, Major Walter Reed, who had himself capitalized on insights of a Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. As such, Gorgas won international fame battling the illness—then the scourge of tropical and sub-tropical climates—first in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba and finally at the Panama Canal.
As chief sanitary officer on the canal project, Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in permitting the construction of the Panama Canal, as they significantly prevented illness due to yellow fever and malaria (which had also been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 1898) among the thousands of workers involved in the building project.
Main article: Health measures during the construction of the Panama Canal
Gorgas received an honorary knighthood (KCMG) from King George V at the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital in the United Kingdom shortly before his death there on July 3, 1920. He was given a special funeral in St. Paul's Cathedral.
- Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Biographical index of former fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1783-2002: Biographical Index. I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. page 370
Dr. William C. Gorgas, 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army's Timeline
March 17, 1854
Toulminville, Mobile, AL, USA
September 10, 1889
July 4, 1920
Millbank, London, England
Arlington National Cemetery,Washington D.C.,,,,