Bubonic plague kills a Seattle resident on October 19, 1907.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 12/04/1998
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 418
On October 19, 1907, Seattle resident Leong Sheng dies of Bubonic plague. There are two other plague deaths during 1907. Thousands of rats living on ships have carried the bubonic plague from Asia to San Francisco to Seattle.

Seattleites held a public meeting and urged the Governor to petition the U.S. Public Health Service to take charge of the outbreak. The Public Health Service sent officers to Seattle. They inspected for plague 15,475 trapped rats, and policed sanitation, mainly in the 218 blocks along and behind the city's waterfront.

In November 1907, Seattle passed two ordinances to improve sanitary conditions and thus combat the plague. Ordinance #17391 was one of the first rat proofing ordinances enacted anywhere in the United States.

Sources: Roy Steven Nakashima, "The Public Health Significance of Domestic Rats in Seattle, Washington" (Masters thesis, University of Washington, 1980), 12-15.

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