Author: ÜNLÜ MUCIZE
*Assoc. Professor at 19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey
The negative side effects of frequent sea trade, such as epidemic and contagious diseases, force governments to intensify preventive public health measures to protect the people. One of these disease control measures is to quarantine those who have been exposed to such diseases. Quarantine is a purification practice that applies to infected or suspect individuals, goods and vessels either in transit or arriving in a host nation from foreign countries that have been exposed to a contagious disease, in order to stop or limit its spreading.  Quarantine stations are isolated anterooms, where these individuals, baggage and cargo arriving from distant places, or those bound for places beyond, undergo inspection for a certain period necessary to determine the possible presence of contagious diseases.  In the Ottoman Empire, the first quarantine practises were introduced as a precaution for Russian merchant ships arriving in the Ottoman ports, because of the cholera epidemic that had broken out in Russia. Quarantine applied to the İstanbul Straits in 1831 was essentially the first quarantine practice.  The French doctor Antuvan Lago had an influential role in the approval of quarantine practice. He wrote a detailed report, which clearly explained how Europeans fought against epidemics. He also indicated ways of combating plague, and how to prevent the spreading of the disease.  Meclis-i Tahaffuz, established in 1838, was the first institution to deal with public health. The main task of this institution was to protect the country and take all necessary precautions against epidemics and contagious diseases. From 1840, this institution gained international qualification.  Quarantine stations were established in ports and harbours of the Ottoman Empire, where commercial activities were significant.
For Samsun, the exact establishment date for the establishment of quarantine station is unknown. It is estimated, however, that it was established somewhere between 1837-1845. The person who initially granted the land for the quarantine station demanded later a payment or another land for compensation. Thereon, it was decided that the land owner would be given another land to the value of forty thousand kuruş.  The income of the quarantine station was 14,964.5 kuruş in 1846-1847. It underwent repair works in 1850. One of the first officials of this station was İzzet Ağa who worked for a 600 kuruş salary. Fauvel, the French representative in the Quarantine council in 1848, defined the condition of the quarantine station in Samsun, after his visit in 1849, as miserable, since it was even lacking a barge.  Four people were in charge of the Samsun quarantine station in 1858-59: the doctor’s assistant Valöski, clerk Ragıb Efendi and the guardians Hacı Ahmed and Süleyman. The doctor’s assistant salary was 1,000, the clerk’s 200, and the guardians’ 80 kuruş. In 1871, there were two quarantine stations operating in the centre of Samsun.
In 1879, the quarantine officials were doctor Monsieur Mezarka and clerk Osman Nuri Efendi, which means the number of officials was reduced to two.  The number of quarantine officials remained same in 1881.  In 1894, the number again increased to four. The Canik Quarantine Department was employing doctor Mezraki Efendi, clerk Hakkı Efendi, and guardians Mustafa and Hasan Ağa.  In 1896, Hamburg Efendi was placed in charge instead of doctor Mezraki Efendi. No changes of duty took place for the other officials.  In 1901, the number of officials was again reduced to two. These were doctor Karalis Efendi and once more clerk Hakkı Efendi.  In the mid-1910s, because of the cholera outbreak, passengers stopping by the city were subjected to quarantine. 
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