Title page for ETD etd-11142005-140210

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Arden, William Brennan
Author's Email Address warden@lsu.edu
URN etd-11142005-140210
Title Urban Yellow Fever Diffusion Patterns and the Role of Micro-Environmental Factors in Disease Dissemination: A Temporal-Spatial Analysis of the Memphis Epidemic of 1878
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Andrew Curtis Committee Chair
Kent Mathewson Committee Member
Michael Leitner Committee Member
  • spatial analysis
  • medical geography
  • yellow fever
Date of Defense 2005-11-08
Availability unrestricted
Most investigations that examine diffusion of disease through urban areas give relatively scant attention to the 'micro-environment.' Employing the many methods of macro-environmental analysis, most studies do not attempt to identify street-level or even residence-level temporal-spatial patterns of disease diffusion. As a result, the mechanisms that lead to diffusion on such small scales are left relatively undefined. There is no doubt that cumulatively these small-scale mechanisms contribute to the diffusion of disease over the urban environment. However, the level of contribution and the specific details of their dynamics remain unclear.

This thesis investigated some of these unexplored areas by presenting a temporal-spatial analysis of the Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878. The area (downtown Memphis), the time (August-December 1878), and the epidemic (yellow fever) are centered around a collection of books, maps, and reference materials that range from contemporary accounts of the epidemic to modern virology texts. This information was used to construct a modern database and GIS that could be analyzed and manipulated by various statistical means. Hot spots and multi-death residences in particular were examined for interrelated patterns. Temporal-spatial cartographic representations of these areas proved to be the easiest means by which to extract disease patterns. Results indicated that social and cultural interactions probably play a greater role in yellow fever dissemination than previously thought. However, additional studies of complete data sets are required for a more comprehensive understanding of the exact dynamics and mechanisms that underlie urban yellow fever diffusion.

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