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Taiwan in the Eyes of a Western Traveler--John Thomson’s Footprints in Formosa
John Thomson(1837-1921)is regarded as a pioneering photographer in the 19th century. He traveled to Far East, documenting the portraits, landscapes and eastern cultures profoundly through his lens and these photographs have become precious historical records. Although John Thomson only stayed in Taiwan for a few days, the images and notes he left are valuable historical materials for the research into Taiwan in the 1870s.His story could be comparable to Shen Bao-zhen, one of the figures in 「Traveling in Time」Exhibition. They were the travelers who came to Taiwan in the same time period. Through their stories, we can learn how they interpret Formosa in the 19th century.
VII. Post-WWII Epidemics
At the end of 1945, the war caused Taiwan to suffer serious deterioration of medical and sanitation standard, resulting in outbreaks of communicable diseases including bubonic plague, cholera, smallpox and malaria, all of which had been well under control in the 1920s.

In April 1946, the first case of cholera occurred in Keelung; in May, a severe cholera epidemic broke out in Tainan, spreading to the central and northern parts of Taiwan mid-June. Among the counties and cities, Tainan County had the highest prevalence, followed by Taipei County, Kaohsiung County and Penghu County. The hotspots of the epidemic were small coastal ports frequently visited by civilian ships. Sanitation at these ports was poor and most passengers who landed were merchants traveling alone but unvaccinated and without prior quarantine inspection from their place of origin. These added to the lax quarantine measures caused Taiwan to be ravaged by cholera.

In July, the provincial government health agency declared the area from Beigang, Chiayi in the north to Fengshan, Pingtung in the south to be the cholera-affected zone with the following epidemic control measures to be implemented.

(1) All residents in the affected areas were required to have a certificate of vaccination against cholera before being allowed to pass tickets for leaving or going out from the areas.

(2) Passengers were required to have their vaccination certificate checked before alighting. Those who had not been vaccinated; if coming from outside the affected area were not allowed to enter the affected area; and if coming from an affected area were not allowed to alight but had to return to their place of origin via the same route.

(3) Preying and trafficking of fish and shellfish, confirmed vehicles of cholera transmission, were strictly prohibited.

(4) Passengers suspected of being infected would be immediately sent to an isolation hospital for 5-day observation. All passengers in the same carriage of the severely ill suspected passenger would also be sent to an isolation hospital for 5-day observation.

From April 1947, vaccination began first in the most severely affected areas such as Chiayi City, Tainan County, Kaohsiung County, Pingtung City, Penghu County and Taitung County, followed by other counties and cities. Quarantine inspection at seaports was also strengthened.

By mid-November, the epidemic finally got under control. More than 3,800 got infected and more than 2,200 died, a mortality rate of 58%. Heavy casualties of the epidemics forced the health administration to re-examine and adjust its operation, establish epidemic prevention policies and educate the public of proper response to disease outbreaks.

 Figure 31: Diary of Lin Yu-diao in 1946
Source: Identifier: T0689_01_0011-054, Lin Yu-diao Papers (1923-1989)
In May 1928, Lin Yu-diao, a native of Shengang, Taichung, graduated from the Medical School of the Government-General of Taiwan, and furthered his studies for six months at the Institute of Infectious Disease of the Tokyo Imperial University. After returning to Taiwan, Lin began practicing in Shengang, Taichung; Guanxi, Hsinchu, Hengchun and Checheng, Pingtung. In early 1946, upon recommendation by Du Cong-ming, Lin was transferred to the Shilin Branch of the Institute of Tropical Medicine to work on bubonic plague research and to manufacture vaccines. His diary on May 20, 1946 contained what he entered in the staff registration form. Under “Opinions of Present Job”, he put down “Manufacturing vaccines and serum to contribute to epidemic control and prevention, focusing more on research in future to strive for excellence.” Under “Interests and Aspirations”, he wrote “Make medical care accessible to the public, promote hygiene and maintain public health for all.” In October of the same year, Lin was appointed Senior Technical Specialist of Daojiang Hospital under the Department of Health of Taipei City.

  Figure 32: Application of expenses related to vaccination against bubonic plague
Source: Identifier: LW_02_035-0156~LW_02_035-0158, Forestry Records in the Government-General of Taiwan Period (1895-1946).
In June 1946, bubonic plague broke out again after having been stamped out for almost 30 years. Fourteen got infected and four died. On July 2, 1946, the Nanpo Forestry Company Limited planned to vaccinate its employees and their families. The quotation provided by the Taiwan YMCA Clinic (196 yuan for vaccination of 158 people administered in two rounds) was submitted to the Forestry Bureau for application of expenses.

 Figure 33: Diary of Wu Xin-rong in 1946
Source: Identifier: 3WXR_03_0013-0079, 3WXR_03_0013-0120, Wu Xin-rong Papers (1921-1967)
Wu Xin-rong (1907-1967), born in Jiangjun, Tainan, graduated from the Tokyo Medical College in 1932. After returning to Taiwan, he practiced medicine in Jia-li, Tainan. In his diary of June 1, 1946, he wrote about the cholera epidemic in Tainan. In the afternoon of that day, he was vaccinated at Zhongshan Hall. Even his family members received the third injection. On July 30, he wrote in his diary about the outbreak of influenza, besides cholera, and 4 to 5 members of his family got sick.

 Figure 34: Certificate of injection against cholera and plague issued by quarantine station at Keelung Harbor to Chen Wang-cheng in 1947
Source: Identifier: T0650D0531_01_0012-001,
Huang Wang-cheng and Huang Ji-tu Papers (1905-1978)
In 1945, Chen Wang-cheng was the editor-in-chief of “Min Bao” (The People’s Journal). He penned criticisms against the government under Chen Yi. In 1947, due to the February 28th incident, the newspaper was closed down in March. In May, he took a boat from Keelung to Shanghai and returned to Taiwan only in 1948. The Taiwan Provincial Quarantine Office was in charge of setting up branch offices and training personnel for performing quarantine inspection at seaports, aviation, and highways. In July 1949, the Taiwan Provincial Quarantine Office was abolished and the work of quarantine inspection, disease control and epidemic report all fell under the responsibility of the Provincial Health Department.

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