In Cuba there is a street, a park, a museum and a prize named after Carlos Finlay. But the most important thing is that every December 3 in all America the Doctor’s day in his memory. What contribution did Finlay make to go down in history? He investigated the origin of the yellow fever and discovered a mosquito as a transmitter of the disease.
His full name was Carlos Juan Finlay and Barrés, was born on December 3, 1833 in Camagüey and died on August 19, 1915 in Havana, at the age of 81. In recognition of his work, the Pan American Medical Confederation established in 1953 the Doctor’s day on his date of birth, and Argentina joined that celebration in 1956 at the initiative of the Medical College of Córdoba, made official by a government decree.
Finlay had put forward his hypothesis about the yellow fever in 1881 in front of the International Sanitary Conference. His studies determined that, if a mosquito bit a sick person and later also bit a healthy person, it transmitted the yellow fever.
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The following year he was able to identify the mosquito of the genus Aedes Aegypti as the organism responsible for the contagion. His theory followed with recommendations for the control of the mosquito population in the mosquito population and in this way a brake on the spread of the disease was achieved. But it didn’t happen overnight.
What is the origin of yellow fever
The yellow fever had attacked different cities of the world and, in fact, Buenos Aires He had suffered it in 1871. At that time, in addition, he had caused a disaster during the works of the Panama Canal: 30,000 workers died, the construction company went bankrupt and a significant delay in the project deadlines was generated.
The Americans then took over the Canal and summoned Medical Colonel Walter Reed to determine the origin of the disease. Reed had worked until 1893 in the Wild West with the Apaches. In 1899 he was sent to Cuba, where he met Finlay, and began to study on the yellow fever, to such an extent that he personally verified its severity.
The Cuban doctor had begun his clinical studies in 1865. In 1901, just two decades after the hypothesis was presented, Reed held a meeting and confirmed Finlay’s work. It was the kickoff to eradicate the disease from the Caribbean.
On that basis, Reed dived into the subject and conducted experiments at Camp Lazear. Several colleagues volunteered to be bitten by the mosquito. Some had no consequences and others died from the disease.
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The medical colonel always credited Finlay with discovering the transmitter of the yellow fever. At the time, this breakthrough was regarded in medical science as the most important development since smallpox vaccination.
The life of Doctor Carlos Finlay
Carlos Finlay He was the son of an English doctor living in Cuba. At the age of 11 he was sent to study in Le Havre, in France. At 13 he returned to Cuba due to illness, but then returned to Europe in 1848 to complete his education, spent two years in London and studied in Rouen. In 1851, he suffered from typhoid fever and returned to his native country.
As the University of Havana did not recognize his academic studies in Europe, he undertook a trip to the United States and enrolled in the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. In that city he met John Kearsley Mitchell, who proposed the germ theory of yellow fever and it gave him the initial impetus for his historic research.
The Cuban graduated in 1855, two years later, in 1857, he began with ophthalmology practices in Havana and in 1860 he continued his studies in Paris for a year. Following Reed’s confirmation of his work, he was appointed as head of the Cuban Health Office. He was also nominated seven times for Nobel Prize in Medicine. And every December 3 the Doctor’s day in his honor.