1899: Bubonic plague diagnosed in Honolulu’s Chinatown
After a shopkeeper in Honolulu’s Chinatown is diagnosed with the bubonic plague, the Territory of Hawai‘i’s Board of Health declares a state of emergency as more cases are identified. The outbreak is likely due to flea-infested rats disembarking from ships, and the flea-borne bacterial disease spreads in the squalid conditions of Chinatown. Business leaders are unsympathetic and turn against Chinatown.
“Plague lives and breeds in filth and when it got to Chinatown, it found its natural habitat.” —Dr. C. B. Wood, Board of Health, Territory of Hawai‘i