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Reed, Walter (1851–1902)

  • In: Encyclopedia of Epidemiology
  • Edited by: Sarah Boslaugh
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Health Research Methods , Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Walter Reed was a surgeon in the U.S. Army who significantly contributed to knowledge of the etiology and epidemiology of yellow fever. Reed's work is significant in that he focused on the means of disease transmission rather than a specific disease agent and, in doing so, greatly reduced infection rates. His yellow fever experiments also established the important role of the ‘healthy volunteer’ in epidemiologic research and contributed greatly to the formalization and documentation of informed consent. Reed was born in Belroi, Virginia, and became a medical officer in the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Virginia medical school. He remained in the military for the remainder of his life.

During the Spanish-American War, yellow fever killed thousands of soldiers in Cuba—more than died ...

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