There is no actual Camille in Willa Cather's "A Death in the Desert," but the character Katharine Gaylord in the story likens herself to Camille as she enters a room, saying,
You see I make the traditional Camille entrance—with the cough.
Katharine is alluding to a work by Alexandre Dumas called Camille, which was made famous by Verdi's opera La Traviata. In Dumas's work, Marguerite, nicknamed Camille, dies tragically of consumption, the disease we today would call tuberculosis.
Although it is not said specifically that Katharine is dying of tuberculosis, her cough, her comparison of herself to Camille, and her brother's words all suggest tuberculosis. Her brother says,
It's her lungs, you know.... She hasn't the ghost of a chance.
Camille also didn't have a chance of surviving her wasting disease.
Katharine leaves her natural urban habitat to die in the country, just as Camille leaves the city to die in the country. Neither woman can be with the man she loves at her death. Camille has been prevailed upon by the father of her lover, Armand, to nobly separate herself from Armand, so as not to cause a scandal for Armand or ruin his sister's chance at marriage. Katharine has to settle for being with Everett and not with the man she truly loves, Everett's famous musician brother, Adriance. Everett writes to Adriance about Katharine, but Adriance is in Granada, Spain, far too distant in those days for him to get home in time to see her. She dies in Everett's arms, calling him Adriance.