Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Edmonton]
SCARLET FEVER AND DIPHTHERIA.
It is important to mothers of families that they should
know the early signs of these diseases so that the doctor may
be sent for and the patient isolated before other members of
the family catch the infection.
Early Signs. Scarlet Fever usually begins with
Sudden Vomiting, Sore Throat and Hotness of the
Skin, followed in a little while by a red rash.
After this rash has faded, the skin soon begins to peel,
finely at first, and later on in larger pieces, especially on the
hands and feet.
A mother who does not know the early signs, may
frequently overlook mild cases of Scarlet Fever in which the
child does not appear to be very ill at first. She may mistake
the illness for a simple sore throat, some stomach disorder, or
a feverish cold, and may think that the rash, which is sometimes
very slight, is a simple heat rash. In these cases she
may neglect or put off having a doctor to see the child, with
the result that the patient will probably go about as usual and
will infect his brothers and sisters, and perhaps his school
fellows, with the disease.
It must be remembered that these mild cases are just as
infectious as the more severe ones, and besides this, owing to
the child being allowed to go about with the illness on him he
is nearly certain to get one of the many complications that
follow even the mildest cases of Scarlet Fever when neglected
or mistaken for some simpler complaint. These complications
are always very dangerous to the patient himself.
Every child, therefore, who is taken suddenly ill with sore
throat, hot skin and a tendency to vomit, should be put in a
separate room at once away from other children and kept
warmly in bed till the doctor sees him.
When at any time a rash appears on a child, do not be
content to make light of it and say " it is only a heat rash "—
Have a doctor to see it at once.