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  • Writer's pictureBecky Fifield

Scarlet Fever!

The house on Paradise Road, Aberdeen, Maryland.

The house on Paradise Road, Aberdeen, Maryland.

My grandfather, S. Lee Bowman, returned from World War II in 1946 to marry Gurnice Stephens of Mt. Pleasant Orchard, outside Havre de Grace. The first several weeks of their marriage were spent separately: as soon as they returned from a honeymoon in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my grandfather came down with scarlet fever. Quarantined in his mother’s home on Paradise Road outside Aberdeen, my grandmother spoke to him through the window.

About the same time that my grandfather was infected, penicillin was discovered as a treatment for the disease. Before antibiotics, infectious disease required seclusion within your house for several weeks. Bedding was destroyed (remember The Velveteen Rabbit?). Illness was scarring, could exact lasting damage such as loss of hearing, and was extremely risky for the caregivers around you. Vaccination dramatically reduced, if not eliminated, the risks of many quarantine-worthy illnesses. Read my post about vaccination here.

The History of Medicine Division. Prints and Photographs Collection Connecticut Health Office.

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