• 2005-06 school year Meningitis
  • 1905-06 school year Yellow Fever

    While it's too late for those that lost lives and loved ones, wouldn't it be great if this were the last Meningitis outbreak in the US?

    It may sound a tad far fetched, but that is exactly what happened during the school year of 1905-06, which was also the year Yellow Fever last struck the U.S. on an epidemic level.

    In actuality the yellow fever outbreak never directly hit the UL campus, and from what I can find (surface search) only one Civil Engineer who worked for Southern Pacific Rail came down with the disease in the Lafayette area.

    However Archbishop Placide-Louis Chapelle who had just visited Lafayette in early July of 1905 did die. He was scheduled to revisit Acadiana a month later on August 2nd but made notice of his having to cancel the visit in a letter dated July 25th 1905. At the time, he owed the cancellation to the Yellow fever epidemic that was raging through New Orleans. It is possible he already knew himself to be sick with the disease since he died a mere 2 weeks and a day from the date of his July letter, succumbing on August 9th 1905.

    Perhaps in part because of the Archbishop's recent contact with Acadiana, and no doubt due to the single Lafayette case, UL was adversely affected.

    The Yellow Fever epidemic postponed UL from opening on time as school did not open till the middle of November. Seemingly minor unless looking for football records, news reporting on sports went by the wayside and other than scant references to sporting events, quarantine laws and quarantine taxes were the topic of the day.

    In hindsight, that was the last Yellow fever outbreak in US history.

    I just wonder what would have happened if the recent Meningitis outbreak had happened before instead of during the 2005-06 school year. Would school commencement have been postponed? Only to be followed by hurricans Katrina and Rita? Hopefully this is also behind us and another outbreak isn't on the horizon so we never have to find out.

    Not to make light of anyone's loss, but another thing the two years separated by a solid century had in common. The football teams came together late, and in different ways served to mark a return to normalcy at Louisiana.