Walter Reed Bio


     Walter Reed

     9/13/1851 - 11/23/1902 

Walter Reed, an American medical doctor, had received his medical degree by the time he was 18 years old.


He continued to study and do experiments at the Army outposts.  He and some other doctors studied typhoid fever and discovered it was carried by flies.


            Yellow fever was a dreaded disease in the nineteenth century.  90,000 people in the United States died of the disease.  Many American soldiers in Cuba had died also.  Reed observed that people who cared for the patients with yellow fever didn’t usually get the disease.  His conclusion was: people didn’t catch it from each other.


            He joined the Army and became a captain.  For 16 years he had served in an outpost far away from other doctors.  He wanted to be able to study and learn more about medicine, so he asked for a four month leave.  He learned so well they allowed him to study for seven months at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


            Walter Reed headed a team that began looking for answers.  He remembered the research they had done on typhoid fever.  He wondered if maybe mosquitoes might be spreading yellow fever.


            Some of the doctors and soldiers volunteered to take part in the experiments.  The mosquitoes were put in test tubes.  First they bit the arms of men who already had yellow fever.  Then they were allowed to bite the arms of people who didn’t have the disease.  After many tests, they decided the mosquito did carry the disease from one person to another.  The next step was to get rid of the mosquitoes.  They sprayed the areas of water where the mosquitoes were hatching, with chemicals.  This stopped the spread of the disease. 

           The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washing D.C. is named in honor of him.