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