McGuigan, an Irishman, was a stranger to New Orleans. He had arrived in America’s fifth-largest city just 17 days before, aboard a ship carrying 314 Irish immigrants from the British port of Liverpool. Two days later a sailor from another newly arrived ship, the Augusta, transporting passengers from Britain, Germany and other European countries, died in the same hospital. At the autopsy, local physician Dr Erasmus Darwin Fenner observed the yellow colour of the sailor’s skin. Black vomit was found in his stomach.