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August 31, 1912

The Mystery of Miasma as Darwin Saw It

Author Affiliations

Davenport, Iowa.

JAMA. 1912;LIX(9):736. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04270080418018

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To the Editor:  —In his comprehensive notes on organic life, during the voyage of the Beagle, Darwin just missed disclosing the rôle of the Anopheles mosquito. At Callao, July 19, 1835, he wrote:"The attacks of illness which arise from miasma never fail to appear most mysterious. So difficult is it to judge from the aspect of a country whether or not it is healthy that if a person had been told to choose within the tropics a situation appearing favorable for health very probably he would have named this coast. The plain round the outskirts of Callao is sparingly covered with a coarse grass, and in some parts there are a few stagnant, though very small, pools of water. The miasma in all probability arises from these: for the town of Arica was similarly circumstanced, and its healthiness was much improved by the drainage of some little pools.... The

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