Dr. Sawyer was in West Africa from December 1926 to mid-June 1927, serving as director of the West African Yellow Fever Commission
while Dr. Henry Beeuwkes was on leave. In this letter, he described preparations for an investigation of nearby yellow fever
cases, and some experiments he and Dr. Johannes Bauer had made with leptospira bacteria, which were considered the likely
causative organism of yellow fever at the time.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
3 (213,115 Bytes)
1927-02-20 (February 20, 1927)
Sawyer, Wilbur A.
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
From Hookworm to Yellow Fever: Rockefeller Foundation, 1919-1927
Two ships and no letters! My only consolation is that none of the rest of the colony have had a mail of any size. The next
boat should bring a deluge. I hope so!
A new man has been added to the staff,--another Californian. Mr. Batchelder worked two years with Kellogg in the State Hygienic
Laboratory, also for a couple of years at the Hooper with Meyer et al., and has done three years of his medical course. He
seems to be a good sort, and a great improvement on the Russian who preceded him.
I have had a very interesting Sunday. Most of the day I have been going through a dress rehearsal taking rabbit blood and
making all the different kinds of cultures that one would make from a yellow fever patient. On Wednesday (Feb 23) I shall
sail on a French boat for Accra on the Gold Coast, taking with me a trained native laboratory assistant, a personal "boy,"
[END PAGE ONE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWO]
60 guinea pigs, and a great array of glassware, culture media, dark field apparatus, etc. I have been doing a little laboratory
work here, but should have more time for it in the field away from executive duties. There have been nine cases of yellow
fever at a town 42 miles inland from Accra and there may be more. Dr. Bauer has been very helpful in planning the trip and
outfitting me. Perhaps I shall send for him later to carry on when I return,--if the Lagos situation continues quiet.
Dr. Bauer and I have been doing some interesting experiments with filters. It had been supposed that feces had so many spirochaetes,
etc, in them that it would be useless to try to find leptospira. We inoculated feces with Leptospira icteroides and obtained
abundant pure cultures by filtering laboriously through Berkefeld V and N. We assume that the cultures are pure, and they
look it, because the filtrate from feces which were not inoculated stayed sterile. The new type of filter (the Seitz) lets
nothing through, not even from water inculcated with Leptospira.
[END PAGE TWO]
[BEGIN PAGE THREE]
Dr. Mueller, who is still in hospital with Appendicitis will come out this week, and he will sail for home on March 25. He
is the pathologist of the group, and his 18-months period of duty is about up.
The home office sent me a federal income tax return just as if it were on time and as if I did not have the sweetest business
manager in the world at Hastings. I hope you did not have much trouble in filing and paying the tax. The enclosed pictures
were taken by Mr. Hogan, Secretary of the Commission. Save them for me. They were taken in our portable staff house from
America. The oil-painting effect is due to developing films in warm water. I shall get you some better pictures later, but
I am specializing in other lines now. I hope to induce Mr. Batchelder to take over the developing and printing. The first
motion picture films have not yet come back from England. I hope they turn out well.
Do write often, and tell me in your next how Auntie Gertrude is getting on. You have not mentioned her.