Mr. Mathews to Mr. Evarts.
Tangier , August 24, 1878. (Received September 18.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the Asiatic cholera has made its appearance in the cities of Fez and Mequinez.
On the 2d instant some merchants of this place received letters from the city of Mequinez (distant about 170 miles from Tangier) conveying the sad news that the terror of death had commenced to reign there, carrying off daily from 20 to 30 victims.
Close upon this news followed letters, from different sources, from Mequinez all confirming the existence of sickness and death to an alarming extent; and also letters from Fez (distant about 160 miles south of Tangier) giving notice that the same state of public health had likewise commenced already.
Upon the grounds of this private and vague information, as president of the Morocco board of health, I called a meeting of its members, composed of the foreign representatives, and several letters conveying the above news were read, and ah agreement unanimously come to to work with will, in order to prevent the spreading of any disease, as far as human work can do it, and more so in a country” so superstitious and so unpropitious in every respect for the carrying into effect of any measure requiring the co-operation and good faith of the authorities and people themselves. It was therefore decided to send a physician, Dr. Tadeo Martinez, formerly of the Spanish navy, to Fez and Mequinez, in order to study the disease on the spot, and to report at once to me its character and extent, and, on receipt of the definite information, to take the necessary precautionary measures.
Dr. Martinez left Tangier on Wednesday, the 7th instant, and, after [Page 690] forcing Ms way with 200 Moorish troops through the lines of revolutionists besieging Mequinez, entered the city on the 14th August. He found the city, particularly the Jews’ quarter, in the most wretched state. Dr. Tadeo Martinez remained at Mequinez two days, during which time he visited several patients whom he found seized with all the well-known symptoms of Asiatic cholera. Dr. Martinez sent at once an express courier with a report, but the man died when about half way between Mequinez and Tangier, the Arabs carrying away the letters and whatever money they found on the body. Dr. Martinez arrived at Tangier yesterday. I herewith inclose a copy of his report to me.
I attribute the origin of the disease—
- To the drought, the scarcity and, in some localities the absence, of drinkable water, and life-sustaining nutriments.
- The entire want of precautionary measures of cleanliness within and without the houses of the crowded cities of Fez and Mequinez, in some quarters of which offal, filth, dead animals, and dirt of all kinds and origin are allowed to accumulate from year to year, until they reach up to the level of the windows, creating inexpressibly repugnant exhalations of the most deadly and life-destroying miasmas.
- The circumstance that so many thousands of pilgrims returning from Mecca carrying with themselves on their bodies and in their clothes, and in the merchandise even, brought there, the germs of diseases so rife in those regions, conglomerate now in the capitals of Morocco; and taking into consideration that the months of July and August, even in normal seasons, show an increase of sickness and deaths, then the present state of health in the above cities should not give rise to alarm abroad as long as Tangier and its environs are free from any contagious disease, from which up to now they are completely so, and through the measures about to be adopted by the board of health, and which I will see are strictly adhered to, very likely will continue to remain so.
I have, &c.,