Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Panama Canal and Malaria

As Professor Latto explained in class, the Panama Isthmus was the ideal breeding habitat for malaria carrying mosquitoes: no dramatic seasonal changes, the rainy season last ¾ of the year, and most of the area was rural jungle. 1/6 of the 80,000 people that lived in the region before the canal was built were infected with malaria. When it was decided that the canal would be constructed, the US army intervened to prevent workers from becoming infected with malaria by following seven crucial rules:

1. Drainage: all standing water within 100 yards of the construction site was drained

2. Brush and grass cutting: all grasses were kept at a height of less than 1 foot

3. Oiling: when drainage was not possible, oil was added to kill mosquito larvae

4. Larviciding: when oiling was not sufficient, they used larviciding

5. Prophylactic quinine: provided without charge to all workers and ½ of the workers took a dose each day

6. Screening: all government building were to be screened against mosquitoes

7. Adult killing: mosquitoes generally stay within the same room after they are done feeding and workers collected them

By following these seven rules, yellow fever was eradicated and cases of malaria dramatically declined in the Panama Isthmus. Click here to read more about eradicating malaria in the Panama Isthmus

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