News - from the past & the present

TBT: The 15th cause of death in Alabama on June 22, 1937 was malaria

It is hard to imagine now, but in 1937 Alabamians feared death from malaria during the summer.

Transcribed From the Tuscaloosa News June 22, 1937


Cases Usually Gain Through Summer; Decline Begins Early in October

Montgomery, Ala., June 22 UP – “Unless 1937 proves to be different from previous years, the number of cases of malaria, and also the number of deaths from this disease, will increase steadily from now until October,” says Dr. J. N. Baker, state health officer. The cases should decline after cool weather arrives, Dr. Baker added.

In 1935, the latest year for which complete statistics are available, the October deaths were two and a third times as many as those in June,” he pointed out.

Alabama (Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)). Collecting anopheles mosquitoes in malaria control area 1942 (Arthur Rothstein, Library of Congress)

Alabama ranked 15th in death rate

“Malaria ranked 15th last year as a cause of death in Alabama, the death rate being 11.6 per 100,000 population. It killed nearly as many people in the state as measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and tetanus combined. More than 14 per cent of 1935 malaria deaths were among children less than five years of age,” the health office continued.

“Alabama parents were kept in a state of alarm last year by the polyomyelitis (infantile paralysis) epidemic, and their alarm was, of course, justified. Yet nearly 22 times as many Alabamians were stricken by malaria in 1936 as suffered attacks of polyomyelitis. The number of malaria deaths was more than eight times as numerous as those caused by infantile paralysis.

Tennessee River, Alabama (Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)). Spraying the banks of the Tennessee River to destroy mosquitoes which carry malaria 1942 (Arthur Rothstein, Library of Congress)

Caused by mosquito

“The female ‘Anopheles’ mosquito sucks blood from a person who has malaria or from a malaria carrier, and then spreads the disease by biting a well person. The parasites then multiply, poisons are formed, and the blood streams carry them to all parts of the body.

“To avoid malaria, therefore, a person needs only to protect himself against being bitten by the mosquito. This can best be done by proper screening, or, if that is impossible, by covering beds with mosquito netting. Breeding places of the mosquito, of course, should be destroyed,” the officer concluded.

THE DOTHAN EAGLE, HOUSTON COUNTY, ALABAMA 1908 NEWSPAPER ABSTRACTS Find your Southeast Alabama ancestor in this great KINDLE Book. Immediate download! Dothan was a railroad hub for Southeast Florida and the editor of this newspaper mentions each visitor and their relation to local citizens.


By (author): Donna R Causey
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

(Visited 895 times, 1 visits today)

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey



  1. Mack-Linda Patterson

    In 1899, Linda’s great grandfather, Thomas Newton Burdette, died from malaria. He lived and died near Newnan, GA, but it was thought that he was exposed to the infected mosquitoes while working in Alabama. He was sick for only two weeks before passing.

  2. Tammy Hope

    My Dad had Malaria in 1936,and survived.He said he had never been so sick in his life.He lived in Danville,AL.

  3. Marion Steele Wood

    Meredith Harrell did you know this ??? very interesting…

  4. Carol McDonald Henry

    My father had it as a child. He was born in 1925 and was raised in central Alabama. He was not allowed to donate blood but he had a rare blood type. Often he would get called to the hospitals in Montgomery to give blood in extreme emergencies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *