In 1927, there was a sudden increase in the death rate at The Cradle, an institution which cares for homeless infants from the time of birth till their adoption or disposal in appropriate institutions. The death rate, which in 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1926 had averaged 4.8 per cent, increased to 12.1 per cent in the late summer of 1927. This increase was due to an epidemic in which twenty-seven infants died and sixty-one more became ill but recovered, making a morbidity of 39.5 per cent in the institution. Among the infants who became ill during the epidemic, 30.7 per cent died.
The epidemic disease was apparently a clinical entity characterized by sudden onset with diarrhea, and loss of weight. The stools were grayish yellow and watery without macroscopic blood or much increase in mucus. The loss of weight was progressive until recovery began or death occurred. Regurgitation was frequent.