The Influence of Meteorological Conditions on the Yellow Fever Epidemic in Cádiz (Southern Spain) in 1800: A Historical Scientific Controversy

Año Publicación:  2020
Responsable: F. Sánchez-Rodrigo
Journal, Volumen y páginas:
Atmosphere, 11(4), 405


F. Sánchez-Rodrigo


A yellow fever epidemic occurred in Cádiz and other areas of southern Spain during the last months of 1800. An anonymous author attributed this disease to the contrast between the cold and rainy winter and spring, and the subsequent very hot summer. However, the physician J.M. Aréjula published a report in 1806 where he refuted this conclusion after a detailed analysis of the meteorological conditions in the area. This controversy is a good example of the discussion about the relationships between meteorological conditions and public health. In this work, this “scientific” controversy is studied. Although the arguments of both authors were inspired by the neo-Hippocratic medical paradigm, the anonymous author put forth a simple cause–effect hypothesis, while Aréjula recognized the complexity of the problem, introducing the concept of “concause” to explain the confluence of environmental and contagious effects. 

Keywords: climate and health, yellow fever, Spain, historical climatology

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