Epidemics and pandemics faced by any country make for a part in their history. All the fights put up against it, coming together of masses of people to battle it and lives lost owing to it, epidemics and pandemics can be deadlier than a war!

How have different epidemics made their names in the history 
of these American cities? Let’s take a peek! 

When Yellow Fever shook Philadelphia

Yes, you heard it right! Once the nation’s capital and its busiest port, Philadelphia suffered  the deaths of five thousand people due to the Yellow Fever Epidemic, back in 1793! It is known that 17,000 people fled from the city owing to this epidemic! It was Africa that is believed to be the origin of Yellow Fever.

Yellow fever in Philadelphia

New York has really seen it all

New York has really seen it all, hasn’t it? One of the biggest typhoid fever epidemics of all time broke out in 1906-1907 in New York. Originally called Mary Mallon and colloquially known as “Typhoid Mary” caused 10, 771 annual deaths during its peak!  

New York In "Typhoid Mary"

Cholera, a pandemic, apparently began in India, and New York City was the first American city to feel the impact. Nearly two to six Americans died per day during the outbreak! Did you know, though, that this pandemic spread across the globe through trade routes? That’s what! 

When San Francisco ran out of luck

Although the origin point of “Spanish Flu” remains a quarrel, historians assume it to have begun in 1917. The pandemic occurred in three waves and is known to be the most severe pandemic in history! Yes we know how it sounds, but no, it is widely agreed that it did not originate in Spain.  The most likely origins are the US or China.

 Anyway, the city of San Francisco survived initially, by putting their full faith behind gauze masks. Infact, the California Governor, William Stephens  declared wearing “patriotic duty of every American citizen” and San Francisco eventually turned it into a law. $5 was the fine against the citizens seen without wearing masks and their crime was  “disturbing the peace” !

But could San Francisco retain that peace? The answer is no.  When the third wave of the Spanish flu struck San Francisco in January of 1919, masks couldn’t be their saviors. Businesses and theater owners refused to follow public gathering orders, believing masks saved them the first time! Little did they know what was coming!  San Francisco, consequently suffered some of the highest death rates from Spanish flu nationwide!

Milwaukee and the largest waterborne outbreak in the US history

Let’s go back in time when Milwaukee saw the largest waterborne outbreak in US history back in 1993! The epidemic of cryptosporidiosis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, cost hundreds of thousands of people heavy sickness and caused minimum 50 deaths, and exemplified that even “modern” water treatment and distribution facilities are susceptible to contamination! 

Milwaukee Outbreak in 1993

A “war room” for the outbreak was quickly designed, complete with a telephone bank, printers, faxes and computers, during the investigation period. As serious and tragic as the outbreak was, the lessons learnt during and post it, prevented many other similar  outbreaks from creating history! 

To know more about America’s history, the stories behind its cities, who changed the face of American cities and how, tune in to The Road channel App, your personal travel partner and the best road trip app!