Walter Reed

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Walter Reed
BirthplaceBelroi, Virginia, United States
Military physician

Reed, Walter,

1851–1902, American army surgeon, b. Gloucester co., Va. In 1900 he was sent to Havana as head of an army commission to investigate an outbreak of yellow fever among American soldiers. Following the earlier suggestion by C. J. Finlay that the disease was transmitted by a mosquito vector rather than by direct contact, Reed and his companions used human volunteers under controlled experimental conditions to prove this conclusively. In 1901 they published their findings that yellow fever was caused by a virus borne by the Stegomyia fasciata mosquito (later designated as Aëdes aegypti).


See studies by H. A. Kelly (3d ed. 1923), A. E. Truby (1943), and L. N. Wood (1943).

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Reed, Walter

(1851–1902) physician, soldier; born in Belroi, Va. He received a medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1869 and served an internship in Brooklyn; commissioned assistant surgeon in 1875, he spent 11 years in frontier garrison posts. A transfer in 1890 gave Reed the opportunity to pursue bacteriological research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and in 1893 he became professor of bacteriology at the newly established Army Medical School. In 1897 he began the study of the transmission of yellow fever, the work for which he is remembered, and headed the army's Yellow Fever Commission, which investigated outbreaks of the disease in army camps in Cuba. Experimenting on volunteers, Reed and his colleagues (including Jesse Lazear and James Carroll) proved conclusively that the Aedes aegypti mosquito spread yellow fever. Attacks on mosquito breeding places cut the number of cases from 1,400 in Havana in 1900 to 37 in all of Cuba the following year. Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., is named in his honor.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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