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Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo
(1887)

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo,   pp. [1]-42 ff.


Page 23

JOURNEY ON TIE RIVER CONGO.
other fatal type of fever is a form of low continued fever that gradually but
surely exhausts the strength of' the patient and saps his life out of him.
The malarial poison also works off from the system in ulcers, xemia, and
anvmia; the last disease has been found to be particularly fatal among
the blacks. Dysentery is not unfrequently met with, and in order to
avoid it care should be taken to properly boil and filter the drinking
water.
The cataract region of the valley of the Congo is without doubt very
unhealthy, but I feel sure that if ordinary precautions were observed
there would be fewer deaths and not so many invalids sent home.
I was unacclimated. and traveled through the cataract region during
what is considered the most unhealthy season of the year, viz, the
change of seasons. I carried an umbrella, iever bathed in the streams,
avoided excessive fatigue, and on reaching camp, after a day's march,
changed my underclothing at once. I dressed and slept in light flan-
nels, turned in about 8 p. m., and rose at early daylight; slept under
mosquito curtains; these are absolutely necessary in order to obtain a
good night's rest; bathed in my tent before the evening meal, using te-
pid water. 'While in the cataract country I took a little quinine or ar-
senic every day, increasing the dose of quiuine when I considered that
I had been more than usually exposed to malarial influences. The re-
sult was that I never had the slightest fever, but enjoyed most excellent
health during the six months I was on the river. The two white
men who were to have been my companions to Stanley Pool were care-
less and did not take the precautions I did; the result was that both
were taken ill with bilious fever; one of them barely escaped with his
life.
There are some men so very susceptible to malaria that they would
never be able to live in the cataract region of the Congo, but I think
any one with ordinary good health would be able to retain it on the
Upper River. The records show but one death from bilious fever above
Stanley Pool, and I met with but one case of remittent fever there.
One of the missionaries with me was taken ill, but he, unquestionably,
contracted his fever while making a trip from Lukungo to Leopoldville,
a few days before we started for Stanley Falls. The present chief of
the Bolobo Station was always ill when stationed in the cataract coun-
try; since his transfer to Bolobo he has never had a sick day, and he is
now in his second year there.
It has been found that the white women do not stand the climate as
well as the men. This has been the experience of the missions, but
none of these lady missionaries have been above Stanley Pool; in fact,
none of them have been above Lukungo.
I was informed by Dr. Ralph Leslie, chief medical officer on the
Congo, that white men seldom suffer with anything more serious than
remittent fever during the first year, but after one year the system
becomes enervated, and fevers assume the fatal bilious type. Two
years, Dr. Leslie thinks, is as long as a man should remain on the
Congo without a change. He refers more particularly to the Lower
River; with the climate on the Upper River it is different. And, in ad-
dition to what has already been mentioned, Dr. Leslie thinks that a
moderate amount of work during the day, with some indoor amuse-
ment at night, is quite necessary in order to keep both mind and body
healthy.
The working hours in the territory belonging to the State are from 6
a. I. to 12 m., and from 3 p. m. to 6 p. m.
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