Edited by Brian P. Pace, MA, Assistant Editor.
An English practitioner refers to the fact that many cases of typhoid
fever occur in the autumn, and attributes the cause of the disease to games,
such as marbles and peg-top, which are played in the street during this time
of the year after the cricket season is over. In playing marbles a boy frequently
licks his fingers to prevent the marble slipping, and the whip-cord of a top
is wet in the mouth for the same reason. In this way germs are conveyed into
the alimentary tract. The writer's theory is borne out by the fact that the
disease almost exclusively affects boys; girls do not as a rule play at games
of that kind. Some weeks ago he saw a boy with typhoid fever, was asked by
his parents how he accounted for the attack, as there was no case in the same
street, and so asked the mother to let him see the trousers worn by the boy,
and showed her how stinking the pockets were; they contained marbles, etc.,
and dirt from the street. These games may therefore be a great source of danger
to children living a town life. But how to remedy the evil is not very easy
while such crude methods of doing town scavenging work is permitted to continue.
In his own city of Sheffield, he says that he has seen the contents of yard-vaults
shoveled out into the streets or roadway in large heaps to be carted away
afterward, but leaving behind remainders lodged between the stones of the
road, upon and near which the open-air games of boys are daily practiced.
He had thought it advisable to point out this source of danger to the young,
as he had not as yet seen any mention of games in any paper or book. Contaminated
water in his opinion is not the only source of typhoid and other filth fevers
TYPHOID FEVER DISSEMINATED BY OUTDOOR GAMES OF BOYS.. JAMA. 1998;279(23):1862L. doi:10.1001/jama.279.23.1862