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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT. In 1846 the president and the town trustees passed an ordinance calling for the appointment of "some person with skill in the science of medicine to be styled the port physician." It was the duty of this person to

            visit every vessel coming from any port known to be 
            infected with "any pestilential or contagious disease, 
            and to strictly examine the passengers officers and 
            crew of every boat as aforesaid previous to any person 
            landing from the same or any person being permitted to 
            go on board of said boat except the port physician or 
            his assistants.

If the port physician found evidence of a contagious or communicable disease

            he shall immediately make known the same to the president
            of the board who shall order the boat or vessel to be
            immediately removed and anchored in the middle of the
            channel of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER, there to remain
            until such time as the port physician shall think necessary,
            or as the public good requires and the president of the
            board shall have full power and authority to summon to his
            assistance any number of citizens that he may think proper
            to carry into effect any of the provisions of this ordinance,
            and any citizens refusing to act when so summoned shall be
            liable to a fine of not less than one nor more than five
            dollars; and the boat or vessel shall not be permitted
            after having been so anchored in the stream to land any of
            her passengers, officers or crew of any portion of cargo
            until a strict examination be made by the port physician.

The ordinance continued-

            If any captain or officer of a steamboat or vessel shall land
            within the limits of this town any person infected with any
            contagious disease without first obtaining permission from
            the port physician shall on conviction thereof before any
            justice of the peace, be fined the sum ten dollars and be
            liable for any expense that may be incurred by the corporation
            on behalf of said individuals.



1. "City Health Work Exactly 100 Years Old," Telegraph-Herald, June 25, 1946, p. 3