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
MALARIA VICTIMS DUE TO INCREASE
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.