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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 3, 2003


JAMA. 2003;290(21):2882. doi:10.1001/jama.290.21.2882-a

At present the chief measure for the prevention of the spread of the acute eruptive diseases is the isolation of the patient. This form of prophylaxis is based on rather rude empirical ideas. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly a most excellent method, provided the patient can be isolated from the beginning of the disease; but this is often difficult, if not impossible. This delay leads to infection of the surroundings, and thus the value of a later isolation is materially reduced. Then, again, the prolonged isolation at present in vogue, especially in the case of scarlet fever, is, to say the least, irksome and at times seriously taxes the capacity of the hospital to care for the acute cases that stand in greater need of the advantages of hospital treatment. There is consequently great need for an efficient prophylaxis based on more rational principles than the purely empirical now in vogue. But we can not look with much hope for a rational prophylaxis so long as we are ignorant of the etiology of these diseases, and of the point or points of entrance into and departure from the body of the infecting agents as well as of the places in the infected body in which the virus accumulates and probably multiplies.