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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 2, 2004

THE CONTAGION OF SCARLET FEVER.

Author Affiliations
 

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(21):2649. doi:10.1001/jama.291.21.2649-b

In this issue of THE JOURNAL we abstract an article from the Lancet by Dr. Lauder, who expresses the opinion—not a new one—that the contagion of scarlet fever is conveyed by the respiratory tract, and that the constitutional condition and rash are only the results of toxic products and not dangerous as regards the spread of the disease. This is an opinion quite contrary to the one ordinarily received, but his experience reported in the article referred to in the management of scarlet fever would seem to indicate its correctness. The germ of scarlet fever is one that is unknown to us, and, therefore, our knowledge of the disease is to that extent limited, but a careful clinical study will enable us to do much to check the ravages of even an unknown germ. The capriciousness of the contagion of scarlet fever has been observed by almost every practitioner, and it may perhaps be explained by the observers' assumption that the contagion was conveyed in the rash and its products. A closer study of the cases with a view as to the dangers of respiratory matter and the conditions of the throat and nose will perhaps make this capriciousness in scarlet fever less mysterious. As in diphtheria, it is possible that the greatest danger is in the intimate contact with the patient, and that the infection itself is sometimes comparatively short lived. This, however, is a matter for further study.

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