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Measles in 1915 Muncy

By Staff | Feb 18, 2015

Editors Note: This article appeared in the Muncy Luminary in 1915 and we thought it very appropriate to reprint it since the measles outbreak has been current in today’s news. Do you think there were vaccinations back then?

The Muncy Luminary

And Lycoming County Advertiser

Thursday, Feb. 18, 1915

Of the common ailments of childhood there are none which the greater number of people hold in contempt more than measles. Familiarity may be the blame for this for the fact that in the great majority of cases the children recover from the acute attack to such a degree that the parents do not recognize the highly susceptible condition in which it leaves most of the organs of the body. Particularly the lungs are left in a condition which permits the germs of tuberculosis to live in them and causes an untold number of deaths, yet this result is sufficiently removed from the acute attack for the layman not to recognize the relationship.

While far more children died from this cause than from scarlet fever, the latter is universally feared and measles is looked upon as a necessary evil.

It is a common practice with many people of considerable intelligence to permit children to be exposed to measles when it is prevalent. “They might as well get it over with,” is the usual excuse which is offered for this dangerously ignorant practice.

The after effect of a severe case of measles may be quite as menacing to the health of the child as those which often follow scarlet fever. The weakening of the lungs with resulting bronchial pneumonia and susceptibility to tuberculosis follow in hundreds of cases.

Diseases of the ear are also a frequent result. Despite its universal prevalence there are many factors in connection with the disease of which the medical profession is in ignorance. It is certain, however, that it is most readily transmitted by the discharges from the nose and mouth of the patient in the early stages of the disease and for this reason children whom have been exposed and who have developed coughs should not be allowed to associate with other children.

Owing to their ignorance of the serious nature of the disease parent soften endeavor to treat their children without calling a physician. In view of the frequent serious complications which mean death, no risk can be taken. The loss of a little schooling and sociability cannot be considered by sane persons alongside of death.

For eight years the death rate from this disease in Pennsylvania has been higher than for scarlet fever and this is due largely to the ignorance and indifference of parents in permitting their own and other children to be exposed to measles which affects all the internal organs and leave the mucus membrane a good soil for tuberculosis.