William C Reeves

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 21 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:980

A leading authority on the spread and control of mosquito-borne diseases

William C Reeves was only 25 years old when he and William M Harmon led the research team that isolated the western equine and St Louis encephalitis viruses from the Culex tarsalis mosquito.

Originally trained as an entomologist, Dr Reeves became interested in arboviruses (a term he coined for arthropod borne viruses) before going on to earn his PhD in medical entomology and parasitology in 1943 at the University of California at Berkeley, where he also earned a master's degree in epidemiology in 1949.

In a captivating series of oral history interviews in 1990, Dr Reeves said that he developed an interest in insects while growing up on a ranch in rural California. His interest was so keen that childhood friends called him “Billy Bugs Reeves.”

While working for the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District during college, Dr Reeves studied treehole mosquitoes (Aedes sierrensis, then named Aedes varipalpus). When the district received …

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