March 3, 1879

Washington, D.C.


To Officers of the Customs Revenue, Medical Officers of the Marine-Hospital Service, and others whom it may concern:


The act approved April 29, 1878, entitled, “An act to prevent the introduction of contagious or infectious diseases into the United States,” provides that no vessel coming from any foreign port or country where any contagious or infectious disease exists, nor any vessel conveying infected merchandise, shall enter any port of the United States or pass the boundary line between the United States and nay foreign country except in such manner as may be prescribed under said act.


Attention has been called to the prevalence of a dangerous epidemic disease in southern Russia known as the “plague,” and its extremely virulent and contagious character, as manifested in the late outbreak, leaves no doubt that it is similar to, if not identical with, the “plague” which devastated the Old World in past centuries.


Because, therefore, of the danger which attaches to rags, furs, etc., as carriers of infection, the following regulations are framed, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, and subject to the approval of the President, for the protection of the health of the people of the United States against the danger referred to:


Until further orders no vessel from any port of the Black Sea or of the Sea of Azof, conveying any rags, furs, skins, hair, feathers, boxed or baled clothing or bedding, or any similar articles liable to convey infection, nor any vessel from any port of the Mediterranean or Red Seas having on board such articles coming from southern Russia, shall enter any port of the United States until such articles shall have been removed from the vessel to open lighters or to some isolated locality and the vessel disinfected and thoroughly ventilated;  and the suspected articles shall be disinfected, either by chemical agents and exposure to free currents of air or by burning, as shall be determined in each case by the Surgeon-General of the Marine-Hospital Service.


The certificate of the State or municipal quarantine officer of health may be accepted as satisfactory evidence of compliance with these regulations on the part of the vessel.



Surgeon-General United States Marine-Hospital Service.