equivalent band (mostly Brazil) across the Atlantic. If you're going to tropical Africa - get vaccinated, it will be better in the long run.
Yellow Jack famously brought a stop to the building of the Panama Canal. Ferdinand de Lesseps, French engineer, knocked off the Suez Canal in 10 years 1859-1869 at a cost of £100 million. It required the removal, by digging and dredging, of 100 million cu.m of spoil but connected the Med with the Red Sea without using locks. There is a small difference in the height of the water at either end of Suez but not enough to make a difference to navigation. de Lesseps was then persuaded to do the same thing at Panama. Should be a doddle: it's only 80km across compared to Suez's 190km. They started work in 1881, shifted almost as much spoil as Suez but had made less actual progress when the company went bust in 1889, costing the shareholders $260million dollars and the workers +20,000 lives. Many of the casualties were from Yellow Fever and malaria but sketchy health&safety, poor planning and faulty engineering decisions added to the toll taken by landslides, accidents and drownings. Nobody knows exactly how many people died under the French because they only recorded deaths in the company hospitals.
We like to think that the French led the way [behind Louis Pasteur] in understanding the role of microbes in human and animal health. The microbial basis of malaria was cracked by a British Army doctor Major Ronald Ross in India who observed Plasmodium cells in the gut of an Anopheles mosquito. He won the Nobel prize in 1902. When US imperialists became convinced that American interests would be served by acquiring the French assets in Panama and finishing the canal, one of the first people sent out there was Col W.C. Gorgas, of the US Army Medical Corps. Gorgas recognised that killing the mosquitoes and/or reducing their access to people was a logistical problem such as the military are uniquely well equipped to prosecute. It was multi-pronged:
- drain all pools within a cordon either side of the canal route (mosquitoes breed in still water)
- if you can't drain the pools and swamps cover them with a film of oil
- cut all the brush and undergrowth within the cordon (mosquitoes don't like open ground: they feel insecure)
- Make sure necessary drainage ditches (tropical rainfall in the area has to go somewhere) are always free-flowing
- ladle out free quinine to everyone in the area to reduce the infectable population
- screen all windows and door to prevent mosquito access
- pay people to kill adult mosquitoes that evade the measures listed above.