Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
The Great Fever
More about the film The Great Fever

Carlos Finlay In June 1900, Major Walter Reed, Chief Surgeon of the U.S. Army, led a medical team to Cuba on a mission to investigate yellow fever.

For more than two hundred years the disease had terrorized the United States, killing an estimated 100,000 people in the nineteenth century alone. Shortly after Reed and his team arrived in Havana they began testing the radical theories of Carlos Finlay, a Cuban doctor who believed that mosquitoes spread yellow fever.

This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE production documents the heroic efforts of Reed's medical team, some of whom put their own lives on the line to verify Finlay's theory. Eventually, their discovery enabled the United States to successfully eradicate the disease among workers constructing the Panama Canal, making possible the completion of one of the most strategic waterways in the world.

When yellow fever struck New Orleans in 1905, an aggressive mosquito eradication campaign successfully ended the epidemic. It was the last yellow fever outbreak in the United States, and the first major public health triumph of the 20th century.

Film Description
A synopsis of the film, plus film credits.

The program transcript.

Further Reading
A list of books, articles, and Web sites relating to the program topic.

Program interviewees and consultants.

Closed Caption Logo

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH.

Descriptive Video Services Logo

A special narration track is added to the series by Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®), a service of WGBH to provide access to people who are blind or visually impaired. The DVS narration is available on the SAP channel of stereo TVs and VCRs.

back to top page created on 9.29.2006

The Great Fever American Experience

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: