JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer
Reiling, Assistant Editor.
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.
THE CONTAGION OF SCARLET FEVER.. JAMA. 2004;291(21):2649. doi:10.1001/jama.291.21.2649-b