Clara Maass

The Dastardly Past:  Clara Maass.


August 24 marks the death of Clara Maass in 1901.  She was an American nurse with the commission in Cuba led by Walter Reed.  Their purpose was to confirm the method of transmission for Yellow Fever, which had been theorized by Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay.  Maass volunteered as a human subject, allowing herself to be bitten by an infected mosquito.  It resulted in a mild case of yellow fever from which she recovered.  She volunteered a second time, however, and died of the disease as a result.

The Reed Commission succeeded in its mission, thus making way for further discoveries, including an effective vaccine.  Sadly, however, Yellow Fever remains a scourge in tropical climates.  It is responsible for between 30,000 and 60,000 death a year according to the World Health Organization.

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