Letter to Dear Doctor [John Henry Bowers], 4 October 1885




Smith, Ashbel, 1805-1886.

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Letter asking about Dengue


Evergreen, Cedar Bayou P.O., Oct. 4, 1885, My Dear Doctor, How I long for a personal time with you instead of slow and most incomplete intercourse by writing. How is it with you in regard to the French language? _ I have a good many French books, chiefly on medical subjects. I would be glad to send you a box of them, unless living in the interior you have bid a final adieu to French that is to everything in the French language. There is a subject on which I much wish to hear from you _ it is the Dengue, now so widely xxx, & ailing. I was in the city of Austin a short time ago. The Dengue was universal, nearer absolutely universal than any ailment I ever knew or read of. Not a single family which I knew or which I heard of escaped without one or more cases. I was so absorbed in University business that I had not time to see a single case, I learn for the newspapers that it xxx xxx. Now, I beg you to write to me about it. 1. Is it the Dengue which we knew many years ago; and which we thought had some not clearly defined relations with yellow fever? 2. Does it appear in the country districts more or less remote from cities? 3. It is contagious; or infectious? Is the same individual subject to more than one attack of it? 4 Have we ever had before a wide spread epidemic of it in Texas. 5. Is an individual who has had yellow fever subject to Dengue? 6. What is the best treatment of Dengue? Is there any known prophylactic? 7. It appears to be a sort of nervous fever- what is its true pathology? The arrangement of these questions is not methodical; for I have jotted them down hastily as they occurred to me. If Dengue has occurred in Columbus, you can give me better information than any other person whom I know. There is another matter which I hope you will not neglect. It is a list of Yellow Fever epidemics of Texas. Dr. Heard to whom I confided your, papers did not get an opportunity to present a paper of his own on this subject, or indeed any paper whatever. So he returned your account to me. I still have it. I know no one competent to draw up such an account except yourself. Do not omit to do so. I am now eighty _ an octogenarian. I lead a life of active work, mentally; with all agriculture I have made my peace. _I ride and get about well, but soon tire physically. My mind is active; its chief failure as it seems to me is of the memory. Write to me at your earliest convenience. Tell me all about yourself and about yours. Affectionately your old friend, Ashbel Smith