Medicine: Cat Fever

It was enough to make a cat laugh. Old sea dogs were laughing too. But the sick citizens of nautical Norfolk, Va. could see nothing funny about a three-day fever followed by a cold, clammy feeling and nausea. They began getting it last month. The name with which Navy doctors dismissed the ailment—"cat fever"—gave Norfolk folks the creeps.

Norfolkians might have felt better if they had recalled one seafaring Thomas Dover, who (circa 1730) combined to an unusual degree the callings of doctor and pirate. Piratical Captain Dover once described a vague malaise that sailors often get as acute catarrhal fever....

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