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Reflections

Overcoming Adversity, That’s What We Do

By Charles Cooper


Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  
First, I’d like to send belated condolences to Sarah Nell Champion in the death of Elvis, which I didn’t hear about until after the funeral.   I have known this family since my teens and was in singings with them over the years.
Since this bug that’s going around hit me last Friday, I didn’t get to conduct an  one-on-one interview but I believe the topic this week is on target with today’s headlines. We seem to go from one crisis to another with the main stream media doing their best to create panic in the streets. While this is the deadliest disease so far, I’d like to point out that 200 years  ago it was smallpox, during the latter part of the 19th Century it was yellow fever, at the end of World War I it was the Spanish Flu. Millions died with these diseases, but we overcame them because we’re Americans and that means we’re  the best. If the liberals say that’s arrogance, let them have at it.  
Let’s look back at early August, 1876, when a railroad engineer named Kenny Lee came down with a fever. A Doctor Stone from New Orleans  confirmed that it was yellow fever, the first case in Yalobusha county. Grenada had already had over 250 deaths and Holly Springs over 300 and many more who recovered.  
Yalobusha went into pan-ic mode. People left by train because the surrounding towns would set up quarantines and they would have no place to go later.  The railroad  discontinued all trains from the south except passenger trains carrying U.S. Mail. The trains were required to stop one mile south of town to discharge or take on passengers.
With all the quarantines it was soon necessary that any traveler had to have proper authenticated health certificates. Even though they didn’t know the cause, they exercised common sense which the current regime refuses to do. Train coaches were locked and the windows sealed and the trains were required to speed non-stop through town.
A young doctor, H.A. Gant, treated patients as best he could with the limited knowledge of the disease, largely with quinine and calomel. There were over 300 cases in Water Valley alone and more than 75 died. But there were probably more. Many bodies were transported by ox carts to Oak Hill and dumped in a long trench, sprinkled with lime and covered up with no names attached.
Dr. Gant came down with the disease in mid-September and one of his friends, Lew Pennington died in the same rooming house.  Dr. Gant’s  friend, Dr. McFarland, told him he had the disease, but Dr. Gant replied, “I know, but there’s no use dying from it.”  
The medical profession had no idea that a lowly mosquito was the culprit.   They referred to it as miasma and believed some invisible substance in the air called formites was responsible.  Dr. Gant was probably ahead of his time because he talked about the unsanitary conditions, shallow wells, outdoor toilets and lagoons full of mosquitoes. He seems too have suspected that the mosquito carried the virus. It was over 20 years later that Dr. Walter Reed proved the case against the mosquito while in the Canal Zone and received world-wide acclaim.
In October Dr. Gant recovered, started  seeing patients and voiced the opinion that extreme panic, dread and terror were the cause of death in many cases. The citizens of Water Valley presented him with $350 dollars and a gold watch in appreciation. He later moved to Jackson and was appointed State Medical Officer.  
I realize I rambled all over more than usual but what I’m trying to get across is to avoid panic, use common sense and remember we eradicated smallpox,  polio, yellow fever, and developed a flu vaccine and we’ll overcome ebola – because as I said in the beginning we’re Americans and that’s what we do.
My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.com or write me c/o the Herald with your comments and have a great week.

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