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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Deadly Diseases

Deadly Diseases

GRHC - March 23rd, 2011

A brief history of the types of diseases and number of deaths, is told from Secretary Wilson's 1898 Board of Health report.    




Diseases we have read about, but rarely encounter today, appear in Secretary Wilson’s 1898 board of health report on the number of contagious diseases in Grand Rapids during the prior year.

The number of cases and deaths were as follows: 65 of diphtheria, 16 deaths; 101 of scarlet fever, 6 deaths; 100 of typhoid fever, 8 deaths; 2,878 of measles, almost 1500 cases in June alone, with 11 deaths; 180 of whooping cough, 1 death; 105 of chicken pox, no deaths; 20 of cholera infantum, not true cholera but having similar symptoms, 9 deaths; 10 cases of membranous croup, 2 deaths; 2 of spinal meningitis, both died; and 9 of mumps, no deaths. Total, 55 deaths.

Wilson pointed out a serious problem with cases of consumption or tuberculosis. They were not being reported as required by law. There had been 117 deaths from consumption during that year of 1897; only seven cases were reported to the health office.

A few years later in July of 1901 Wilson reported that the 64 deaths for the prior month were less than any other month in the past four years. Of those 64 deaths, 11 were children were under the age of two. It was noted that this report on contagious diseases was highly satisfactory.

We can barely imagine the fears of parents facing that great catalog of potentially fatal diseases that could take their children, even before polio was added to the list.



Full Details

TitleDeadly Diseases
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, radio, Secretary Wilson, deadly, diseases , Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringMarch 23rd, 2011

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