Dutton, Joseph Everett (DNB12)

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DUTTON, JOSEPH EVERETT (1874–1905), biologist, born on 9 Sept. 1874 at New Chester Road, Higher Bebington, Cheshire, was fifth son of John Dutton, a retired chemist of Brookdale, Banbury, by his wife Sarah Ellen Moore. After education at King's School, Chester, from January 1888 till May 1892, he entered the University of Liverpool, whefe he gained the gold medal in anatomy and physiology, and the medal in materia medica in 1895. At the Victoria University he won the medal in pathology in 1896, graduated M.B., C.M. in 1897, and was elected Holt fellow in pathology. He then acted as house surgeon to Prof. Rushton Parker and house physician to Dr. R. Caton at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary. In 1901 he gained the Walter Myers fellowship in tropical medicine.

In 1900 he accompanied Dr. H. E. Annett and Dr. J, H. Elliott of Toronto on the third expedition of the Liverpool school of tropical medicine to southern and northern Nigeria to study the life-history and surroundings of the mosquito and generally to take measures for the prevention of malaria. Two reports were issued as a result of this expedition, one dealing with anti-malaria sanitation, the other a very complete monograph upon filariasis. In 1901 Dutton proceeded alone to Gambia on the sixth expedition of the Liverpool school of tropical medicine, and drew up a most comprehensive and useful report on the prevention of malaria. During this expedition he identified in the blood of a patient at Bathurst a trypanosome belonging to a group of animal parasites which had hitherto been found only in animals. He described it accurately and named it Trypanosoma Gambiense. He found the same organism subsequently in numerous other cases in Gambia and elsewhere. Dutton's discovery of the first trypanosome in man was an important factor in determining the cause of sleeping sickness, which was afterwards shown by other observers to be due to the same parasite. In addition to this Trypanosoma Gambiense he also described several other trypanosomes new to science. In 1902 he proceeded to the Senegambia with Dr. J. L. Todd and drew up a report on sanitation which was presented to the French government; he also published further papers on trypanosomiasis. His last expedition was made to the Congo in charge of the twelfth expedition of the Liverpool school of tropical medicine. He started in August 1903, accompanied by Dr. J. L. Todd and Dr. C. Christie. The expedition reached Stanley Falls about the end of 1904 and discovered independently the cause of tick fever in man, a discovery which had been anticipated by a few weeks by Major (Sir) Ronald Ross and Dr. Milne in the Uganda protectorate. Dutton was able to show the transference of the disease from man to monkeys. During the investigation Dutton and Christie contracted the disease. Dutton died of spirillum fever on 27 Feb. 1905 at Kosongo in the Congo territory. His burial was attended by more than 1000 persons, mostly natives to whom he had endeared himself and whose maladies he had treated.

Dutton's cheering enthusiasm made him a welcome comrade in every field of work. The skill and ability which he brought to the science of tropical medicine were of the highest order, and his work gave promise of future fruit.

[Brit. Med. Journal, 1905, i. 1020; Lancet, 1905, i. 1239; information kindly obtained by Professor H. E. Annett, M.D.]

D’A. P.