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October 1, 2021

Uniforms Worn by Researchers During Experiments With Plague in the Philippines, ca. 1912

This photo from the archives of the National Museum of Public Health shows two plague researchers in the Philippines wearing protective masks/uniforms. In 1912, Dr. Heiser, chief quarantine officer, and director of health of the Philippine Islands discovered that the Third Plague had already reached the country.

(National Museum of Public Health)

The Third Plague, said to have originated in the Yunnan Province in China in 1855, was the last major pandemic of plague. Unlike the Black Death which claimed the lives of millions of Europeans, the Third Plague was mostly bubonic plague. This means that it’s less deadly but still highly virulent as evidenced by over 12 million deaths in China and India alone.

By the end of October, 1912, Dr. Heiser reported 17 cases of plague in Manila, with 15 deaths. The plague began in the freight warehouse of the Manila & Dagupan Railway Co. where several dead rats were discovered. It initially claimed the lives of 2 laborers, with 11 other employees also stricken with the plague.

According to a journal article found in the Public Health Reports (1896-1970), the spread of the plague was arrested through effective measures which include moving of all the goods in affected warehouses. The buildings were also “thoroughly saturated with kerosene and then wet down with carbonic solution.”

(via Filipi Know)


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