This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
At a recent meeting of the Paris Academy, M. D'Abbadie called attention to some facts regarding marsh fever, which African travelers and others might do well to ponder. Some elephant hunters from plateaus with comparatively cool climate brave the hottest and most deleterious Ethiopian regions with impunity, which they attribute to their habit of daily fumigation of the naked body with sulphur. It was interesting to know whether sulphurous emanations, received involuntarily, have a like effect. From inquiries made by M. Fouqué, it appears that in Sicily, while most of the sulphur mines are in high districts and free from malaria, a few are at a low level, where intermittent fever prevails. In the latter districts, while the population of the neighboring villages is attacked by fever in the proportion of 90 per cent., the workmen in the sulphur mines suffer much less, not more than eight or nine per cent. being attacked. Again, on a certain marshy plain near the roadstead in the island of Milo (Grecian Archipelago), it is hardly possible to spend a night without being attacked by intermittent fever, yet on the very fertile part near the mountains are the ruins of a large and prosperous town, Zephyria, which, 300 years ago, numbered about 40,000 inhabitants. Owing to the ravages of marsh fever the place is now nearly deserted. One naturally asks how such a town grew to its former populous state. Sulphur mining has been an important source of wealth in Milo from the time of the ancient Greeks. Up to the end of last century the sulphur was chiefly extracted at Kalamo, but since that time it has only been mined on the east coast of the island. The decadence of Zephyria has nearly corresponded to this transference. The sulphurous emanations no longer reach the place, their passage being blocked by the mountain mass. Once more, on the west side of the marshy and fever-infested plain of Catania, traversed by the Simeto, is a sulphur mine, and beyond it, at a higher level, a village which was abandoned in the early part of this century because of marsh fever. Yet there is a colony of workmen living about the mine, and they seem to be advantageously affected by the emanations. M. D'Abbadie further mentions that the engineer who made a railway through this notorious plain preserved the health of his workmen by requiring them to drink no water but what was known to be wholesome and was brought from a distance.