During the Spanish-American War, Dr. Walter Reed investigated the virulent effects of typhoid fever in military encampments. His pioneering, epidemiological study revealed new information about the disease and methods to combat epidemics. After the war, he focused his efforts on Yellow Fever. The lethal disease was plaguing the tropics. Many felt that it was spread by soiled bedding or clothing. Dr. Reed contended that it was transmitted by mosquito bites. His studies proved his theory and provided methods to stop the disease.
One benefit of his work is the Panama Canal. The French had to abandon their plans for the canal in the late 1800s because so many workers had succumbed to Yellow Fever. Armed with Dr. Reed’s insights, America was able to begin successful construction of the canal in 1904.
The highly acclaimed Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a facility used by presidents and congressmen, is named in his honor.