VERDE HERITAGE 1907: SCARLET FEVER EPIDEMIC
Scarlet Fever is a bacterial infection caused by Group A streptococcal bacteria. It develops in some people who have strep throat. Scarlet Fever was a leading cause of death in children during the early 20th century. There were several Scarlet Fever cases in Jerome during the years and epidemics during 1903, 1907, and 1909. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 were the most vulnerable.
The bacteria is easily spread via respiratory droplets, usually by infected persons coughing or sneezing or touching an object which is then touched by another person who then touches their mouth or nose. Prevention is by hand-washing, not sharing personal items, and staying away from people who are sick. Homes were quarantined and during an epidemic towns were quarantined. A "certificate of health" was required to board the train at Jerome and Prescott during some epidemics.
Life at Jerome appeared to be normal during February. The epidemic began during the first week of March, infecting some of the children attending this event. "Birthday Party: On Sunday last Mr. and Mrs. Geary gave to their daughters, Helen and Virginia, a Japanese birthday afternoon and evening. The rooms were decorated in Oriental style and a jolly, good time was quickly passed by all the young folks, there being about 20 in attendance" (Jerome News; Saturday, February 16, 1907; p. 2.)
Scarlet Fever signs and symptoms include a sore throat, fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and a characteristic rash which appears 12 to 48 hours after the first symptoms. The rash is red, feels like sandpaper, and the tongue may be red and bumpy. Complications include pneumonia, inflammation of the kidneys, infections of the heart's inner lining, and sometimes rheumatic fever, meningitis, etc. Fortunately, many infected adults and children recovered.
"The deadly Scarlet Fever is among us. Thoroughly disinfect all clothing that may have been exposed with solid formaldehyde, a positive germicide, safe and easy to use. Per jar with burner $1.00. Sold by Boyd Drug Co." (Jerome News; March 9, 1907; p. 2.)
"The public school was closed on Friday [March 8] for one week owing to the prevalence of Scarlet Fever, the school attendance having dropped from 202 to 125." (Jerome News; March 9, 1907; p. 2.)
Scarlet Fever historically resulted in the deaths of 15-20% of those affected. The epidemic may have begun with the illness of about 20 or more children, with parents keeping their children home to avoid exposing them to illness. Other than the newspaper account, which is not complete, little is known about the 1907 epidemic, other than some information from cemeteries. About 18 or 20 people are know to have died, which indicates that the total number of sick adults and children could have been about 100.
"The home of our esteemed townsman, Andy Zellanak [Andrew Zellanack ?, born 11-30-1868; died 03-14-1912], was made sad Wednesday by the grim reaper, death, who took their son, Edward, age 8 years. The cause of death was Scarlet Fever. The funeral took place on Thursday afternoon. The sympathy of the entire community goes out to this bereaved father and mother in this sad hour. Edward was a bright and interesting child and loved by all who knew him and a favorite with his brothers and sister." (Jerome News; March 9, 1907; p. 2.)
March 23: "Two new cases of Scarlet Fever were reported this morning by the City Physician. They are in the same neighborhood as the first cases. Thorough quarantine has been put on." (Jerome News; Saturday, March 23, 1907; p. 3.)
The Jerome Health Officer was Dr. Alfred John Murrieta, who was paid a monthly salary of $25.00. Dr. Murrieta graduated from the University of Southern California College of Medicine during 1899. He assisted Dr. Charles C. Woods, then followed him as the Chief Surgeon at the United Verde Hospital for 10 years before returning to California during 1916. While at Jerome, Dr. Murrieta owned and operated the Red Cross drug store.
"A new case of Scarlet Fever was reported in the infected district the first of the week." (Jerome News; Saturday, April 13, 1907; p. 3.)
Virginia died on April 19, 1907. "Funeral of Virginia Geary: The funeral services for Virginia M. Geary were held at the Catholic Church on Sunday last at 3:30, conducted by Rev. Father Barrat and was very impressive. The children of the public school room where she attended all marched in a body led by Prof. Scudder, and each carrying flowers as an offering to their departed school mate, who was a favorite with all. After the service the children marched to the city cemetery where the body was laid to rest." ... "Card of Thanks: We wish to thank the public for their kindly assistance during the illness and death of our daughter, Virginia. Also for the beautiful flowers. P. J. Geary, Della M. Geary." (Jerome News, Saturday, April 29, 1907; p. 1, p. 3.)
"The Public School was again closed Wednesday noon owing to new cases of Scarlet Fever which have appeared within the past few days. It has not yet been decided definitely for how long." (Jerome News; Saturday, April 26, 1907; p. 3.)
Albert A. Ames was born during 1903, and died on April 28,1907. "On Sunday last the home of Mr. and Mrs. Oak Ames, of Upper Verde, was saddened by the death of their six-year-old son, Albert, who has been ill for some time. The funeral was held on Monday at their home, the Rev. Miller conducting the services. Interment took place at the Cottonwood Cemetery." (Jerome News; May 4, 1907; p. 3.)
Natalia Cadena was born during 1903 and died on May 28, 1907. "The daughter of Antonio Cadena ["Antono" Cadena was born during 1882, and died November 7, 1918,] and wife, age six years, died on Sunday last. The funeral was from the home on Giroux Street on Monday afternoon." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 4, 1907; p. 3.)
"There will be no Sunday School in any of the churches on Sunday owing to so much sickness." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 4, 1907; p. 3.)
Deaths: "Edna Geary, the six-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. Geary, died on Sunday morning [May 5] at 3 o'clock." She was born at Denver, Colorado. Albert (cemetery information) "Andrew Geary, the 22-months-old son of Mr. and Mrs. P. Geary, died on Monday [May 6] at 10:30, after a brief illness. The funeral services of the little brother and sister were held at the family residence on Tuesday afternoon at 4 o'clock. Many friends of the family attended the last sad rites, after which they followed the remains to the cemetery where interment took place. The father and mother have the sympathy of the entire community in this their hour of great grief and trouble." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 11, 1907.) "Mr. and Mrs. P. Geary and 2 children left Wednesday for a visit with relatives and friends in Denver." (Jerome News; May 18, 1907.)
Town of Jerome, Common Council, May 11, 1907: Report from Health Officer Murrietta for the months of March and April read. Bills and salaries: A. J. Murrietta, salary, health officer, April, 1907, $25.00; B. H. Ray, 12 days as special quarantine officer, $48.00; Boyd Drug Co., Formaldehyde for health dept., $9.35. Charles King, night watchman, April salary, $100, "made a few remarks in regard to the sanitary conditions in Jerome. Special Sanitary Officer W. S. Adams explained that the Health Department was doing every thing possible to improve the sanitary conditions." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 18, 1907.)
"Deaths of the Week:" Paul Dicus was born on February 14, 1904. "Paul Dicus, the three-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Dicus, died on Sunday morning, May 12th, at 10:30. Paul was the second son, and was ill but a few days before his death. The funeral was held at the family residence on Monday morning. Interment was at the Cottonwood Cemetery." ... "Otila Carrera, the five-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carrera, died on Sunday and was buried in the city cemetery on Monday." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 18, 1907.)
Many families and many mothers and their children left Jerome to visit relatives or vacation in California. Some of the married men stayed at Jerome to continue working during the summer.
"The public school was closed for the remainder to the term Friday last. This was done owing to the large number of children out of school, who are now at the sea coast with their parents." ... "Let us have a clean town and remove all unsightly refuse and perhaps eliminate the cause of disease during the summer." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 25, 1907.)
"Deaths of the Week: Baby Abbott, the two-and-one-half year old child of Frank Abbott and wife died on Monday and was buried Tuesday." ... "Olimphia Correros, the four-year-old daughter of Federico Correros died Friday night and was buried today." (Jerome News; Saturday, May 25, 1907.)
"Deaths of the Week: Olympia Carrera, the five-year-old daughter of Senor and Senora F. F. Carrera, died on May 30th, and was buried in the city cemetery." ... "Cordova, the one-day-old infant of Senor and Senora Jose 'Cordeva,' died during the week." ... Alezandri Pastrana, son of Senor and Senora Dolores Pastrana, died Thursday, after a brief illness." ... "Ramon Pastrana, the twelve-year-old son of Senor and Senora Jose Pastrana, died on May 29th, the cause of death being pneumonia [a complication of Scarlet Fever?]." ... "Zeidra Pastrana, another of the children of Senor Jose Pastrana, died on Friday of this week. The two children were buried in the city cemetery." ... "Griego, two little girls aged four and five years, children of Senor and Senora Seloergo Griego, died during the week." (Jerome News; Saturday, June 1, 1907.)
"Marguerette Shannahan; On Sunday, June 2nd, the two-and-one-half year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Shannahan died after a few week's illness. This little girl was exceedingly bright and the pet of all who knew her, and this came as a great blow to the fond parents, and the sympathy of many friends is extended to them in this sad hour. The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon from the residence." Baby Shannahan, born, 1905, died June 2, 1907 (cemetery record). Two deaths may or may not have been related to this epidemic: "Tonio Mackovich died at the United Verde Hospital on Monday, June 3rd, and was buried from Scott & Williams' undertaking parlors on June 4th." ... "Frank Szabio died June 6, and was buried from Scott & Williams' undertaking parlors on the afternoon of June 7." (Jerome News; June 8, 1907.)
"Miss Emma Zander, a trained nurse from Prescott, who has been caring for J. E. Leeper's sick son, returned home Thursday." J. E. Leeper was the manager of the Arkansas and Arizona Copper Mining Company. (Jerome News; June 8 and June 15, 1907.)
"A. H. Lyons received a letter from Mrs. Lyons on Monday last, which, when it arrived was 6 days old. This letter announced that the 3 children were sick at Mrs. Lyon's home in Minneapolis, Minn., with Scarlet Fever. At Kansas City the baby, Elyxis, was taken sick and by the time they arrived at their destination all of them were ill. Mr. Lyons telegraphed immediately and received an answer saying they were all O. K." (Jerome News; Saturday, June 15, 1907; p. 4.)
June 15: "It is with great pleasure that the 'News" announces that the dread disease, Scarlet Fever, is now under subjection; no new cases have developed within the last 2 weeks, and all the sick are now convalescing." (Jerome News; Saturday, June 15, 1907.)
Cases of Scarlet Fever occurred in several towns in Arizona Territory during the first part of 1907. Newspapers give details of the epidemic in the Bisbee area. Scarlet Fever seems to have lingered a little longer in Prescott with illness and recovery mentioned as late as June 26.
Penicillin was accidentally discovered by Alexander Fleming, a young bacteriologist, in London, on September 28, 1928. He introduced penicillin as a cure for bacterial infections in 1929, however, it was produced in a limited supply and not widely available. During World War II, the United States developed large-scale production of the life-saving drug and it became a widely available medicine. The introduction of penicillin during the 1940's, which began the era of antibiotics, has been recognized as one of the greatest advances in therapeutic medicine. Scarlet Fever is now treated with penicillin v, amoxicillin, or other antibiotics. There is no vaccine.
Click Below to: