In my book Falling For the Rancher Father, little nine-year-old Allie is being raised by her father who is very protective of her because she’s had scarlet fever, one of the diseases we hear little of today.
But it was deadly before there were vaccinations and antibiotics.
Here are a few of the things I learned about it.
It’s caused by the same group of bacteria that causes strep throat.
In the 1800s homes with a child suffering from scarlet fever were quarantined. From www.museumofhealthcare.ca
“SCARLET FEVER // No person shall remove this card without // permission of the Board of Health, or one of // its Officers, under a penalty of not less than // $5 and not more than $50. // DR. D.R. FINLAYSON // Medical Health Officer // Ripley Ontario”
Patients died from, among other sides affects, brain inflammation.
Treatments were described as this: In mild attacks, having given half a grain of podophylline with ten grains of Epsom salts, to carry off the bile, the bowels should be regulated afterwards with two grains of aloes and ten of salts given in treacle, at night, when required. The patient should be confiued to bed in a well-aired room, with covering sufficient to retain warmth ; and get toast-, barley-, or rice-water, or rennet whey, with five grains of nitre, and half a teaspoonful of the acetate of ammonia, in such drink, every three hours, alternately, if the patient be below ten years; and ten grains of nitre, and one teaspoonful of the acetate of ammonia, every three hours, alternately, if above ten years of age. I’ll spare you some of the other descriptions of how to deal with the infected throat, etc. Shaving the hair off was often considered necessary. And the use of leeches was involved.
Unfortunately the disease could affect the heart, lungs and liver.
It makes me glad for antibiotics and vaccines.
If you lived in the 1800s and had a child that survived scarlet fever, how would you feel? How would you treat the child?