This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why was scarlet fever so scary?

From the Pierz Journal (and probably loads of other rural newspapers), February 24, 1910:


Since a few complaints have been made because the town board allows members of families in which scarlet fever exists, to be about the village, the supervisors have concluded to publish the following regulations adopted by the State Board of Health:
   1.  The local health officer shall forbid by notices posted upon the entrances to premises where a patient is sick with scarlet fever, any persons except the attending physician, health officer, sanitary inspector, or, in case of death, a licensed embalmer, from going to or leaving such premises without his permission, or the carrying of or causing to be carried, any material whereby such disease may be conveyed, until after the disease has abated and the premises, dwelling and clothing have been rendered free from danger by means of such disinfection and cleansing as the State board of Health may direct.  A quarantine card must give the name of the disease and the regulations set forth above.
   2.  The danger of transmitting scarlet fever by a second to a third person being slight when reasonable precautions are taken, the local health officer may permit those who do not have the direct care of the patient or patients to leave the premises in order to attend to their regular duties except when such individuals are associated with children away from the quarantined house.  This applies to teachers or school children in the quarantined house and must exclude such from attending school--public, private, parochial or church--while their home is under quarantine. The patient or patients, and those having charge of same, must be under rigid quarantine as directed in regulation 1".
Scarlet fever (also called scarlatina in an effort to make it sound less scary), was/is caused by the same streptococcus bacteria that causes strep throat. The bacteria "produces a toxin that leads to the hallmark red rash of the illness".  "The time between becoming infected and having symptoms is short, generally 1 - 2 days. The illness typically begins with a fever and sore throat", and most often strikes children hardest.
"The rash usually first appears on the neck and chest, then spreads over the body. It is described as "sandpapery" in feel. The rash can last for more than a week. These days, antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that causes the throat infection. This is crucial to prevent rheumatic fever, a serious complication of strep throat and scarlet fever".
Ahh, rheumatic fever.  Was that the horror before there were antibiotics?  It's what mom's only sister died from, at 21, in 1938 (Loretta Janson).
No,read this from Scienceblogs:
"Simply hearing the name of this disease, and knowing that it was present in the community, was enough to strike fear into the hearts of those living in Victorian-era United States and Europe. This disease, even when not deadly, caused large amounts of suffering to those infected. In the worst cases, all of a family’s children were killed in a matter of a week or two. Indeed, up until early in the 20th century, scarlet fever was a common condition among children. The disease was so common that it was a central part of the popular children’s tale, The Velveteen Rabbit, written by Margery Williams in 1922..."
"From 1840 until 1883, scarlet fever became one of the most common infectious childhood disease to cause death in most of the major metropolitan centers of Europe and the United States, with case fatality rates that reached or exceeded 30% in some areas–eclipsing even measles, diphtheria  and pertussis".   
No wonder then.  Think of the soul-searching when a kid came down with it: WHO had s/he been playing with yesterday?  Did someone bring the germ when they visited?  Would the whole school or church get it?  It must have been horrible if your childen had it, and also horrible if they didn't.  No wonder people worried about who might be carrying it and demanding a ruling on who could be on the street or in the stores.

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