Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/349

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REED


Reed, Walter (1851-1902).

Walter Reed, chairman of the United States Army Yellow Fever Commission, and discoverer of the mode of propaga- tion of the disease, was born in Gloucester County, Virginia, on September 13, 1S51. His father, Lemuel Sutton Reed, and his mother, Pharaba White, were both of English descent and both North Caro- linians by birth, though the greater part of Lemuel Reed's life was spent in Vir- ginia as a Methodist minister.

Walter, the youngest of six children, was educated at different private schools until, at the age of sixteen, he entered the University of Virginia. He did so with the intention of pursuing the usual undergraduate course of study, but at the end of the first year he determined to study medicine and graduated from the medical department of the university in 1869, being the youngest student who had ever done so. On leaving Char- lottesville, he went to New York and matriculated at Bellevue Medical College, receiving his IM. D. there at the end of a year. He was then associated with several hospitals in New York and Brook- lyn among which was the Kings County Hospital, where he was interne.

In 1S74 he made up his mind to enter the medical corps of the United States Army and, after passing the required examinations, received his commission as assistant surgeon with the rank of first lieutenant in June, 1875. His first station was at Willet's Point, near New York Harbor, but in May, 1876, he was ordered to Arizona where he began a garrison life of thirteen years on the frontier. These years of life in the far west were tedious and uninteresting in the extreme but they constituted the soil best suited to the development of Reed's talents, and the foundations of his career as a scientist were then laid.

In 1889 he began to feel the necessity for time and opportunity to keep abreast of the time in medical research and obtained an appointment as examiner of recruits in Baltimore with permission to attend the courses just opened to phy-


311 REED

sicians at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The science of pathology and bacteri- ology was then new a field of investiga- tion and it was to these subjects in particular that he devoted himself. His first scientific paper on "The Con- tagiousness of Erysipelas" was published in 1892 and from that time forward he was a constant contributor to medical periodicals. The papers written during this period witness the indomitable perseverance and industry of the man as well as his usual intellectual endow- ments, for not only were they all written within a single decade but the scientific researches they record were all executed within the same space of time.

In 1898, when the Spanish-American war broke out, Reed was appointed chair- man of a committee to investigate the causation and mode of propagation of the epidemic of typhoid fever among the United States Volunteers, the other mem- bers being Dr. V. C. Vaughan of Ann Arbor and Dr. E. O. Shakespeare of Phila- delphia. The report of this committee is a most interesting and important work, revealing some points concerning the disease which were not before appreci- ated, or even known.

Reed's first association with yellow fever was in 1897, when he and Dr. James Carroll were appointed by Surg.-Gen. Sternberg to investigate the bacillus icteroides which Sanarelli claimed to be the specific cause of yellow fever. The investigations carried on by them proved beyond a doubt that the bacillus icter- oides is a variety of the common hog- cholera bacillus and if present in yellow fever at all it must be as a secondary invader. In 1899, when the disease appeared among the American troojas stationed at Havana, a commission of medical officers from the United States Army was appointed to investigate its cause and manner of transmission. Reed being chairman. The other members were Dr. Carroll, Dr. J. W. Lazear, and Dr. Aristides Agramonte, a Cuban immune.

Shortly after Reed's arrival in Havana,