Sunday, February 1, 2015

History Repeats Itself: Measles in the Headlines

With the current measles outbreak in California and Arizona making news, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the measles headlines from more than 100 years ago:

  • "Dealing with the Measles," Evening Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii), September 22, 1893;
  • "Measles-Disease Little Feared Yet It Kills More People Each Year than Does Small Pox," The Santa Ana Daily Register (Santa Ana, California), January 11, 1913;
  • "Measles No Longer a Trifling Disease," Fort Wayne Daily News (Fort Wayne, Indiana), March 14, 1913;
  • "Preventative for Measles May Be Reported Soon," The Washington Herald (Washington, District of Columbia), March 23, 1913;
  • "Health Department on Measles Outbreak," The Allentown Democrat (Allentown, Pennsylvania), December 27, 1915;

You can find all of these news stories on Here's one from 1920:

Genealogy and newspaper searches
"A Measles Arrest," The Kansas City Kansan, May 6, 1920
"An overestimation of their powers as parents and a disregard of the public health laws resulted in warrants being arrested [sic] this morning for the arrest of the heads of three families on South Ferree street. The parents are charged with failing to report cases of measles in their homes.
An investigation of the measles cases was made by the health department following the receipt of an anonymous letter from a resident of the neighborhood, who said other parents were afraid lest their children should catch the disease from the little ones in the three homes. Dr. Gloyne found measles cases in each of the homes, as the letter stated, and he found the neighborhood mothers in a high state of fear and excitement. The three sets of parents pleaded they did not know the state law required that measles cases be reported.
'Measles is often regarded as a simple disease that none need fear,' Dr. Gloyne said. 'But in reality measles lurk with subtle danger, and often result in permanent deafness, blindness and awful results. I am convinced these families did not know they were violating the law, but I am forced to make a start sometime in prosecutions and this is a case I can't let pass. I am going to issue a warrant for the physician who saw part of these cases, and failed to make us a report. A lack of medical attention in these three homes and the failure to report the cases to this department might have resulted in a general epidemic of measles, and its consequent suffering and loss of money and lives.'" 

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