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President of the Louisiana Board did not feel warranted in absenting himself from the State at that time. Accordingly, Dr. John N. Thomas, Resident Physician of the Mississippi River Quarantine Station, a veteran officer in the service, and one whose duties related directly to the subject, was delegated to represent the Board on the trip to Central America.
The party sailed from New Orleans on the S. S. Anselm January 20, and consisted of the following delegates and special guests:
Mr. C. H. Ellis, Manager United Fruit Co.; Dr. J. H. White, Surgeon U. S. Public Health and Marine Hospital Service; Surgeon E. E. Francis, of the same service, stationed at Mobile; Dr. John N. Thomas, Resident Physician of the Mississippi River Quarantine Station, representing the Louisiana State Board of Health. (Dr. G. W. Gaines, member of the Louisiana Board, had also been named as a representative, but was not able to go.)
Dr. Jno. F. Hunter, executive officer of the Mississippi State Board of Health, telegraphed the day prior to the sailing of the party that he was unable to go, and Dr. J. R. Anders was substituted for Dr. Robt. L. Hagaman, of Centreville, who had been named as a delegate from Mississippi.
Hon. John Marks, of Assumption, went from Louisiana in place of Sen. Coignet, of Lafourche, who was appointed by Gov. Blanchard. Hon. Dr. S. L. Henry, member of the House Committee on Quarantines, was the other Louisiana delegate.
Dr. Henry Goldthwaite, in charge of the quarantine of Mobile, and Dr. J. D. Smythe, were also in the party.
Rev. Dr. Beverly Warner, who did such good work with the volunteer forces last summer; L. H. Fairchild, representing the Cotton Exchange, and H. T. Cottam, from the Board of Erade, were also among the guests.
Yorke P. Nicholson, one of the owners of the Picayune; Edwin Craighead, editor of the Mobile Registor; Will .M Steele, of the Picayune; J. E. Edmonds, of the Times-Democrat; Wm. Beattie, secretary to Surgeon White; W. H. Marshall, of Mobile; J. N. Teunison, official photographer for the trip; Geo. W. Reuff and Eyre E. Damer, were also members of the party.
Mr. Ellis acted as the host and guide of the party, and every facility was afforded for the most thorough investigation of conditions at the Central American ports, including Panama.
It may be briefly stated that, in addition to much valuable information secured by the delegates individually and collectively, as set forth in their published reports, this trip to Central America was productive of great good in the way of allaying a certain vague and unreasonable apprehension previously existing with respect to the tropical fruit trade, the development of which under the safeguards thrown around it in recent years, mainly through the instrumentality of the Louisiana State Board of Health, has been of the greatest benefit to the commerce of New Orleans and Mobile.
CAMPAIGN OF EDUCATION BEGUN.
It was recognized by the President and members of the new State Board of Health at the very outset that in order to pave the way for the extensive and important work to be undertaken in the State there must first be a vigorous campaign of education. Teh most pressing need seemed to be that of persuading the authorities and the people in localities where fever had prevailed to adopt and enforce screening ordinances and otherwise second the efforts of the State Board directed toward preventing the recurrence of infection.
To accomplish this result a series of popular hygienic institutes were held in towns of South Louisiana, where the lessons of the recent epidemic had been most severely felt. In the line of his particular mission Dr. Fred J. Mayer, Special Medical Inspector of the Board, planned and presided at these meetings, thirty-two in number in seventeen parishes, and was fortunately able to secure the general adoption of the measures recommended by the State Board. In fact, so effective was the work of screening and of destroying the breeding places of mosquitoes that in certain localities a period of relief from the attack of those insects previously unknown was enjoyed by the people, wtih a corresponding diminution in the number of malarial fever cases ordinarily prevalent.
FIRST STATE HEALTH CONFERENCE,
The most notable event in the campaign of education instituted by the new State Board of Health was the great conference held at Alexandria, Feb. 14 and 15, 1906. It was decided by the President and members immediately after entering into office that the proper remedy for the chaotic condition of affairs existing in Louisiana as the result of the yellow fever outbreak of 1905, would be to invite representative physicians and others in positions of influence in the State to meet in a convention held under the auspices of the State Board, where all might get acquainted with each other, thereby laying the foundation for future harmonious work.
Therefore, as soon as possible after the reorganization of the Board plans were perfected and preparations actively begun for calling the proposed conference at a place centrally located, and at the earliest practicable date, which was finally fixed for Feb. 14 and 15, with Alexandria as the place of meeting.
While the call was to be for a State Health Conference, which might be supposed to mean a gathering of Health Officers, it was felt that no prominent interest in Louisiana should be overlooked in issuing invitations to a meeting which concerned all the people. It was particularly desired to enlist the active participation of railroads, commercial exchanges and other influential organizations, including those composed of intelligent and public spirited women. In order to fully explain the objects and purposes of the conference, complete details were furnished to the newspapers, which one and all gave the widest publicity to the subject, besides adding editorial comments expressive of hearty approval.
Through the courtesy of Mr. Geo. H. Smith, General Passenger Agent of the N. O. and Northeastern Railroad, a return rate of one fare plus 25 cents was secured to Alexandria from all parts of the State.
The invitations sent out from the office of the State Board of Health were in the form of personal letters from the President to the numerous distinguished people included in the following list:
The Governor of Louisiana, the Presidents of all Medical, Sanitary, Dental and Pharmaceutical Societies in the State, the Health Officers and Coroners of Louisiana, the Senate and House Committee on Public Health and Quarantine of the General Assembly, Presidents of the Police Jury, Representatives of the United States Health and Marine Hospital Service, Representatives of the commercial, transportation and traveling men's organization and mayors of cities and towns, the Progressive Unions of New Orleans and other cities of the State, the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association of New Orleans, the Federation of Women's Clubs, the Era Club of Shreveport, the Louisiana Sugar Planters' Association, the Ascension Club of Donaldsonville, the Southern Cotton Growers' Association, the Exchanges of New Orleans, the New Orleans Health Association, the City Board of Health, the State Press Association.
The responses received from those invited showed the greatest interest everywhere in Louisiana, and the success of the first State Health Conference at Alexandria, with its large attendance of earnest workers, is now a matter of history.
Coming just after the trials and hardships of 1905, it afforded a
welcome opportunity to many of those who had stood as leaders of thought and action during that memorable time to get together and take counsel with the new State Board of Health and with each other as to ways and means to guard against the recurrence of similar trouble in the future.
Among the most interesting and instructive features of the conference were a demonstration of expert fumigating by Prof. 'A. L. Metz, of New Orleans, who had brought with him a skilled gang of men for this purpose, and an illustrated lecture on mosquitoes by Dr. Quitman Kohnke, City Health Officer of New Orleans.
Dr. Kohnke's lecture, with its brilliant and original stereoptican display, was so much admired that the doctor was besieged with requests to repeat it at other places, which he did in a number of instances, not only in connection with the State Board's campaign of education in Louisiana, but in other States.
Of the Alexandria Conference, the first of an annual series inaugurated by the new Board, it may be said that it marked a distinct epoch in the progress of sanitary science in Louisiana, a State already famous as having been the pioneer in all matters relating to maritime quarantine.
SECOND AND THIRD STATE CONFERENCES.
The second Annual Health Conference under the auspices of the State Board of Health was held at Opelousas May 2, 3 and 4, 1907, and on account of there having been ample time to prepare the schedule of work, was notably successful as regards the scientific value of papers presented and the discussions on the same.
As the proceedings of the second conference were published, making a pamphlet of 116 pages, copies of which may be obtained at the office of the State Board of Health, it would be superfluous to devote more space in this report to a description of that gathering, further than to state that in point of attendance and enthusiasm it was highly gratifying to the President and members of the Board, showing no diminution of interest since the first conference.
The third Annual Conference of the series was held at Alexandria March 31, April 1 and 2, 1908, prior to the publication of this volume, and was equally successful, but not belonging to the transactions of 1906 and 1907 does not come within the scope of this report.
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