Sunday, June 9, 2013

Typhoid Epidemic in Ithaca

Six Mile Creek Dam, summer, 1903.
Ithaca Daily News, Thursday Evening, February 5, 1903.


Precautions May Later Check the Epidemic.

State Officer Comes Here.

Physician Explains Reason for Seriousness of Present Visitation--Hospital Authorities Issue Official Statement—Oranges, Lemons and Other Delicacies Greatly Needed at Institution—Several Patients in Serious Condition—Beds in Dining Room at Cornell Infirmary.

   By interviewing all excepting two of the city physicians today the Daily News has received reports of 34 new cases of fever in Ithaca. The total reported is 333.
   The physicians believe that the number of cases will increase for several days more until the precautions now being taken by some of the population shall have operated to lessen the number of new patients. It is stated that the period of incubation of the fever germs is about two weeks and that for at least a week more new cases may be expected in varying numbers each day.
   Some of the cases now under treatment are becoming extremely serious. One physician stated to the Daily News today that he has never before seen so many serious complications as are found among the patients in this city generally at the present time.
   He asserted that the bad condition of the city drinking water prior to the appearance of the fever germ was such as to weaken the tissues of the body and therefore the germ was introduced into the system under more favorable conditions for disease than is usually the case.

Conditions at Hospital.
   The figures given by the Daily News for the number of cases has been lower than those obtained by the health officer of the city and it is apparent that could all the physicians have been seen the total number of new cases would be increased above 333. One death from fever is reported today.
   At the City Hospital there are 52 patients altogether, 39 of these being fever sufferers. Two are seriously ill.
   Fifteen extra nurses have been engaged and the expenses of the institution are unusually large. Assistance is greatly needed. Oranges, lemons, eggs, chickens for broth and other supplies are required. The nurses and domestic help are sufficient to take care of the work at present. A few more patients can be accommodated.

Official Statement.
   The following official statement has been issued by the hospital authorities:
   The hospital appeals for bedding to meet the increased need, and later for gifts of money to lift the heavy debt, and provide for the increased expenses, caused by the fever epidemic, have met with generous responses. The supply of blankets is ample. It will be impossible before the close of the month to acknowledge the gifts. So many packages have been received with no name attached, that mistakes will be obviated by the donors kindly sending the secretary, Mrs. D. W. Burdick, a list of their supplies. The hospital matron is at present overburdened and this course will assist her.

   Attention is called to the fact that the fever which prevails in Ithaca is not contagious. No one is in danger of being taken ill with the fever unless he takes into his stomach germ-infected water.
   Boil the water before using it and there is no danger.

    “The money response has been prompt and liberal, but as it has consisted entirely of large amounts from $10 up it may not be amiss to suggest that smaller sums from many kindly hands will brim the cup of relief offered to the suffering."

At Infirmary.
   Five new cases of fever were taken to the Cornell infirmary yesterday. There are now about 45 patients and some of them are quite seriously ill. Much concern is felt today for the condition of 0. G. Schumard, a graduate student in philosophy and Miss C. E. Spencer, '05, both of whom have the fever. Cots have been placed in the dining room and preparations have been made to care .for more patients.

State Officer Here.
   Dr. J. W; Curtis of the state board of health arrived in the city last night and left this morning after a conference with the members of the local board of health. Samples of the water of the Six Mile and the Buttermilk creeks will be forwarded at once to Dr. Curtis, who will make a thorough bacteriological examination of them. Dr. Curtis could not take the samples with him.

C. D. Tarbell's Condition.
   The condition of Clarence D. Tarbell is very grave this afternoon. He passed a bad night last night and his condition today is low. Those in charge of the case, however, state that the young man's pulse is strong and that he remains conscious, which gives them much encouragement. The physician is of the opinion that the young man has a chance of recovery.
   The condition of Miss Kathleen Pearson of Farm street, who is ill with typhoid fever, shows slight improvement today.
   The young son of Charles Riker of Madison street was taken to the city hospital this morning, suffering with typhoid fever.
   A distinct improvement has been noted in the condition of Ernest H. Greenwood, chairman of the Cornell junior prom committee, and it is hoped that he will be able to attend the prom tomorrow night.
   A. F. Stillman, Cornell '06, of No. 210 Hazen street was this morning removed to the infirmary, suffering with typhoid fever.
   Mrs. Frank Conde of East State street is ill with typhoid fever.
   Charles D. Bostwick is confined to his home in East Buffalo street by illness. It is feared that the case may develop into typhoid fever.
   Fred V. Bail, a typhoid fever patient, was removed to Dr. Morgan's sanitarium last night.
   Mrs. Martha Woodford of Second street is ill with typhoid fever.

Ithaca Daily News, Thursday Evening, February 5, 1903


   A few narrow minded citizens have been heard to criticise the Daily News for printing the facts in regard to the present epidemic.
   This, however, in itself is of no importance for before anything was said about the matter the subject was discussed with leading business men and it was only after the most careful consideration that it was decided to bring home to the officials and residents of the city the seriousness of the situation.
   The Daily News feels that it has done a great good bringing the facts to light. Until the News printed the figures and showed that there were on Monday 337 cases of fever in the city few realized how dangerous was the epidemic.
   As soon as the facts were brought to the attention of the city officials action was taken to check matters and to prevent the further development of the disease. Had nothing been said about it conditions would have been far worse today than they are.
   The truth in regard to the epidemic will not hurt the city. It is not a case parallel to a smallpox scare. Typhoid fever is not a contagious disease. To become infected with the typhoid germs one must take the bacilli into the stomach.
   Thus the publication of the facts about the epidemic in Ithaca does not scare anyone, it does not drive away trade. It does, however, warn citizens to be careful.  It makes them realize the danger of drinking impure water. It brings home to them the fact that even if they have always used the city water there is no reason why they can do so now with impunity.
   The Daily News believes that it was its duty to do all it could to save the health and lives of its readers. And as that was the purpose of publishing the facts in regard to the epidemic, the Daily News would have done so regardless of the protests of narrow minded citizens who believe that money in their own pockets is the first and only consideration in this world.
   A paper which fails to print the facts when the situation is as serious as it is at present, fails to do its duty; it is cowardly and dishonest to its readers.
   The action of the board of health at its meeting Tuesday night fully justifies the attitude the Daily News has taken in the matter. The health officer reported that on Sunday morning 19 out of the 24 physicians had 216 cases of fever in the city. The action taken to warn the citizens of their danger and the drastic measure adopted in turning off the water from the schools is along the very line the Daily News had advocated from the first.
   The Daily News has aimed to make clear that there is no danger in Ithaca if a person does not drink the city water before it is boiled. If he does not take this precaution he is in danger of losing his health and even his life.
   And the Daily News cannot, with its heaviest head letter, make this point too strong.


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