|In response to
continued yellow fever outbreaks over several years, Congress passed
legislation that made quarantine a Federal responsibility. Before then,
quarantine was left up to state and local jurisdictions. Of course, little in
the way of funding was appropriated.
|Later in 1878, a
very serious epidemic of yellow fever swept the Mississippi Valley. There
were approximately 100,000 cases of the disease, and over 20,000 deaths.
People evacuated the towns and cities in panic, business came to a
standstill, and severe quarantine measures were invoked, to no avail.
|Robert Lebby was
the state quarantine officer at the port of Charleston, beginning in 1868.
The State Health officer ran the state’s quarantine system, based in
Charleston Harbor, with an annual state appropriation of $1,000. Dr. Lebby’s
report for 1879:
|It affords me
unfeigned pleasure to inform the representatives of the people that, while
pestilence and death have again been recorded at Memphis, New Orleans and
other places in the Mississippi Valley, the cities and towns on our seacoast
have been entirely free from yellow fever, and the endemic fevers of this
climate have prevailed but to a limited extent. The improvement in the general health may
be attributed to the general interest and improvement in sanitary service and
the watchfulness and energy of municipal officers in cleaning and removing
the elements likely to produce disease.
The quarantine elements have been rigidly enforced by your officers at
the several stations...
|The number of
vessels visited and examined at this station [Charleston Harbor] was one
hundred and eleven (111), a decrease of twenty-seven...Many of the vessels
were from infected South American and Cuban ports. The crews on arrival were healthy and
remained so during their detention at quarantine. The last year has been an exception to
former years; not a sick man has been brought into port from any infected
ports; the crews have been generally in good, healthy condition.
Resolutions of the General Assembly of the state of South Carolina at the
regular session of 1879 Columbia SC Calvo & Patton, state printer,