Prior to 1900, the colony of Senegal had suffered from periodic epidemics of yellow fever. In an attempt to combat the disease, the government of Senegal began to enact new legislation to prevent the spread of epidemics. The government hoped that these new laws would allow them to control yellow fever epidemics without hurting the economic viability of the colony, but they found that the new laws created new challenges. Within the first decade of the passage of the new legislation a series of formal complaints and court cases would challenge sanitation laws and test the limits of government authority.

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