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William C. Gorgas

AKA William Crawford Gorgas

Born: 3-Oct-1854
Birthplace: Toulminville, AL
Died: 3-Jul-1920
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Doctor, Military

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Malaria and yellow fever

Military service: US Army Medical Corps (to Surgeon General, 1880-1919)

US Army doctor William C. Gorgas was stricken with yellow fever while stationed in Texas in the early 1880s, which left him immune to the disease. He also treated his future wife when she contracted the disease, and for this reason Gorgas and his wife were posted to Havana during the occupation of Cuba, as the city was ravaged with yellow fever and malaria. After being promoted to chief sanitary officer for the city, Gorgas read the research of Carlos Finlay and Walter Reed linking these diseases to the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito, and he ordered the breeding areas for the insect destroyed, which helped end a city-wide epidemic.

When the Department of Cuba was closed in 1902, Gorgas was posted to the Panama Canal construction area, where he pursued similar remedies to bring the diseases under control there within about eighteen months. This allowed construction of the Panama Canal, and brought Gorgas recognition as a national hero. His book Sanitation in Panama was pivotal in spreading information about control of the diseases, and in 1914 he was promoted to Surgeon General of the United States Army. His father, Josiah Gorgas, was a General in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, and his maternal grandfather, John Gayle (1792-1859), was Governor of Alabama from 1831-35.

Father: Josiah Gorgas (Confederate Army General, b. 1-Jul-1818, d. 15-May-1883)
Mother: Amelia Ross Gayle Gorgas (librarian, b. 1-Jun-1826, m. 1853, d. 3-Jan-1913)
Sister: Jessie Gorgas (b. 1856, d. 1925)
Sister: Mary Gayle Gorgas (b. 1857, d. 1944)
Sister: Maria Bayne Gorgas ("Ria", b. 1861, d. 1953)
Brother: Richard Haynsworth Gorgas (attorney, b. 1864, d. 1935)
Wife: Marie Cook Doughty Gorgas (m. 3-Sep-1885, one daughter)
Daughter: Aileen Gorgas Wrightson

    University: BA, University of the South (1875)
    Medical School: MD, Bellevue Hospital Medical College (1879)

    Buchanan Medal 1912
    Distinguished Service Medal
    French Legion of Honor
    Knighthood (Knight Commander, Order of St. Michael and St. George)
    American Medical Association President (1908-09)
    Cosmos Club
    Rockefeller Foundation International Health Board (1916-20)
    National Tuberculosis Association
    Dutch Ancestry

Author of books:
Sanitation in Panama (1915)


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