, Watts, and others at the turn of the century brought forth the startling facts for their findings on the cause of smallpox, their reports and writings were overlooked.
It was Dr. Charles A. R. Campbell
, of San Antonio, Texas, who first directed attention to the bedbug as a carrier of smallpox virus.
He was an outstanding scientist of his generation.
The San Antonio Light, in an article as late as October 29, 1946, referred to Dr. Campbell
in these words:
Branching into three specific fields of research, typhoid, malaria, and smallpox, Dr. Campbell
made notable contributions to each.
As Health Officer, and Bacteriologist in control of the Pest House
in San Antonio, he
had ample opportunity to study smallpox, and devoted his
keen and penetrating intellect to the problems of discovering its cause, whether it was contagious or infectious, and the efficacy of vaccination.
Finally, in a paper presented to the Bexar Medical Society
identified the carrier, stated that the disease is neither infectious nor contagious, and declared that vaccination does not prevent smallpox.
The following excerpts are from that report, which he
included later in his
book, Bats, Mosquitoes & Dollars.
extensive experiments led him to the conviction that "bedbugs are the only diffusing agents of this loathsome disease," and that "our present knowledge of its being air-borne, or of its being transmitted by fomites, most be all wrong.
sought to demonstrate its non-contagiousness by means of clothing, bedding, and hangings. . ." and used himself as subject.
was finally able to report:
"As even the air itself, without contact, is considered sufficient to convey this disease, and touching the clothes of a smallpox patient considered equivalent to contracting it.
I exposed myself with the same impunity as my pest-house keeper, who is immune, having had the smallpox."
went from house to house where there were victims of the disease, removing them to the pest house, under legal authority, and "never conveyed this disease to my family, nor to any of my patients or friends, although I did not disinfect myself or my clothes nor take any precautions whatever, except to be sure that no bedbugs got about my clothing."
Another experiment was to beat a rug thoroughly in a small room from which had just been removed a smallpox patient.
remained in the dust-stifling room for thirty minutes, "inhaling particles of organic as well as micro-organic matter," thus representing the respiratory as well as digestive systems as accepted avenues of infection.
Upon a microscopic examination of his
sputum the following morning he
found "cotton and woolen fibers, pollen, and comminuted manure, as also bacteria of many kinds.
From that time on, he
mingled freely with his
patients and his
friends but none of them contracted the disease.
exposed two city carpenters, two laborers, and himself to the germs of an outhouse that had been used at the pest house for smallpox patients only, for five years.
Three of the workers had not been vaccinated and the fourth only in infancy.
reported concerning that unaesthetic job:
In five cases, Dr. Campbell
took the clothes to the detention hospital, spread them out on the grass, and examined them for bedbugs.
Finding them free of bugs, he
returned them to the owners without any disinfection whatever.
Of the subsequent test in this case, Dr. Campbell
had at the Pest House
half a dozen employees who did the washing and scrubbing.
had employed these people because, as he
explained, they were "non- immune'---and yet none of them every contracted the disease.
The night watchman, vaccinated in infancy, frequently mingled with the patients, keeping up the fires and remaining all night, but did not contract the disease.
Nor did the man whom he
designated as "A.C., never vaccinated nor had the smallpox," but who mingled with the patients in all the stages, playing cards with them and eating and sleeping in the infected tents.
told of two children, aged eleven and nine years, one vaccinated in infancy, the other never successfully, who played with the children at the Pest House
in all stages of the disease without the least harm.
Among the patients coming under his
observation and care was a girl of eleven years who developed smallpox after arriving at a San Antonio hotel.
The doctor took this patient and her
father and mother to the Pest House
, locking the door of their room at the hotel and leaving orders that no one be allowed to enter it until his
This room had been occupied two days and two nights by the patient.
return, Dr. Campbell
carefully inspected the bed and the entire room, particularly the walls and ceiling, and not finding any bedbugs, told the hotel proprietor that the room was again all right: and it was from that time on occupied.
After making a great many of these experiments, Dr. Campbell
invited the City Council and other officers of the city government to the Pest House
These officials were familiar with the experimental work he
Several of them made laudatory speeches of the experiments.
Evidently they had faith in what he
was doing for they visited the Pest House
without fear and attended a banquet honoring Dr. Campbell
They remained two or three hours in an atmosphere charged with smallpox, and even contacted patients directly, yet all escaped the disease.
report to the Bexar Medical Association
, Dr. Campbell
made it clear that he
had destroyed the bedbug population of the institution before launching upon his
It was only natural that Dr. Campbell
, being a national scientific figure, came into frequent contact with the leading minds of his
associates for many years was J. A. L. Waddell, D.E., LL.D., who became a staunch admirer, and attempted with vigor to direct world attention upon the spectacular and thorough researches of the San Antonio physician.
In one of his
papers, Waddell says:
"The writer has long felt that the results of Dr. Campbell's
wonderful and interesting nature studies should be brought to the attention not only of the medical profession throughout the world but also of those intelligent, thinking people who are interested in the works of nature and of the methods of utilizing them for the benefits of mankind."
Waddell tells of his
first meeting with Dr. Campbell
and of how a recital of the doctor's complete and painstaking experiments on bedbugs and smallpox convinced him of the doctor's claims.
The writer deviates to recount some personal experiences among French Canadians, who at that period were much afflicted with smallpox.
pointed out that most of their houses were overrun with bedbugs---also that the Canadian Indians were much afflicted with that dread disease, which they often contracted by going into abandoned tepees or huts.
explained, "is so well known in the Canadian wilds that such old habitations are avoided with dread and passed with a shudder.
Old, discarded clothing has long been recognized as a carrier of contagion, although nobody in Canada had ever dreamed of the transmission of the disease being due to insects, in spite of the fact that such abandoned huts and clothing were know to contain bedbugs."
Waddell tells of Dr. Campbell's
desire to go to Mexico in order to experiment upon prison inmates, who would be given their liberty after investigations were finished.
There were no laws in Mexico at that time preventing such experiments.
The physician-scientist was seeking a grant of $12,000 to carry out that project.
Waddell tried to raise the money for him from several sources but failed.
Finally Dr. Campbell called upon one of the directors of the Rockefeller Institute.
After this individual listened to the doctor's request, Waddell describes him as holding up his
hands in horror and exclaiming, "What!
Furnish you with money to experiment upon human beings!
What do you think the American people would say, were I to do such a thing as that?"
article, Waddell said: "In my opinion, Dr. Campbell
has proved beyond the peradventure of a doubt that smallpox is transmitted in one way only---by the bite of an infected bedbug, or possibly in rare cases by that of another blood-sucking insect, the chinche volante."
At the conclusion of his
long and thorough experimentations, Dr. Campbell
arrived at two important conclusions.
1. That smallpox is transmitted only by the bite of an infected bug.
2. That perversion of nutrition determines the degree of virulence.
Of the first, he
said: "In all of the cases of smallpox that have originated here I have always found bedbugs; and where patients suffering with this disease were brought here (to the Pest House) and placed in premises free from these vermin, the disease did not spread to persons living with the patient.
This has occurred in all stages of the disease."
On nutrition he
had this to say: "The most important observation on the medical aspect of this disease is t