In 1917, the Museum displayed this huge model to educate the public about malaria and yellow fever. While president, Theodore Roosevelt played a key role in ending epidemics by lending his support to the then-controversial idea that the mosquito, not poor sanitation, spread the deadly diseases.
In 1904, the U.S. Panama Canal project was threatened by the loss of laborers to yellow fever. But destroying mosquitos' breeding places helped eliminate the disease in Panama within 15 months. Roosevelt's decision to support that effort saved thousands of lives and assured the completion of the canal.