An epidemic of inconvenience.

By the age of ten or so, I had heard of measles, mumps, rubella (we called it German measles, I never found out why), chicken pox and scarlet fever. Probably a few others I’ve forgotten. I didn’t catch scarlet fever or rubella so I didn’t get the whole set.

Before antibiotics, scarlet fever could kill. Even so, it’s kill rate was 150 per 100,000 which isn’t all that scary really. Mostly it killed through elevated body temperature as the body tries to heat the infection to death. Unfortunately this particular bacterium can survive exposure to 44 degC, and humans can’t. So sometimes it could win.

Modern antibiotics can hit it so the fever comes down before you die of overheating. The kill rate for this bacterium is now so low that influenza won’t even acknowledge it when they pass in the street. As a deadly disease, it was never in the top ten and is now relegated to the second division. A sad decline for a bacterium that tried so hard to make it to the top.

The deadbeat ex-death-dealer is one Streptococcus pyogenes. Sorry to give a link that might seem technical to most but the NHS links were so piss-poor on detail it was unbearable. Okay, I know they have to explain things to drones but come on, it doesn’t have to be so simplistic.

Nowadays, scarlet fever is an inconvenience. Not a scary epidemic at all. It’s very contagious and quite unpleasant to have but it’s really not likely to kill you. It stays in the same seedy hotels as cradle cap and ringworm now. It’ll never get to the Infection Hilton.

This means that a rise in cases is an annoyance. Not an imminent blowing of the horns of the End of Days.

Sure, it’s possible that this particular nasty could become antibiotic resistant and revive its almost-top-40 previous chart position but it hasn’t done that. It’s still trivially curable. It is not a major problem.

Except for tax collectors. Sick people can’t work until they recover. With a very contagious minor disease, this means there is an effect on drone productivity.

That’s where the real problem lies. It’s not about health. It’s always about money.

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28 thoughts on “An epidemic of inconvenience.

  1. Morning Leggy. Up late or up early?

    Any way, I had something called Scarletina (sp?) What is the difference between that and scarlet fever?

    I also had measels THREE times!

    According to Doctors, impossible. BUT there it is on my medical records, and I remember EACH time! Curtains closed, off school for WEEKS on end. It was GREAT! Not much worse han a mild hangover.

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  2. It was kind of statutory that we worked through the child disease that kept us off school listening to the light prog or early Radio One and women’s hour, I had glandular fever in my early teens. My Gran insisted that I wear a silk scarf in my neck. Not sure that sits well with medical chaps.

    The Doc said it was the kissing disease, which implied that you had to kiss or be kissed by another human. I can’t remember going through that part of the process. Anyway it was a tiring thing to have and the first time I was allowed out I was totally drained within minutes. I can’t remember if I had any drugs to help sort it out. I was off school for a few weeks. By then I had my own music and a radiogram to play it on. Prog rock. Yay!!!!! It’s an ill wind is it not?

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  3. My auntie died of scarlet fever aged 12 in 1924. I was always told it was because the family were too poor to call the doctor in or buy medicines until it was too late. (We are talking about industrial-era Burnley mill workers here.) But, what medicines could they have used? Penicillin wasn’t discovered till four years later IIRC.

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  4. As a current down-and-out, coming up to the end of the second week of being laid low, this was not a pretty post, Leggie. 🙂

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  5. I remember getting measles and chicken pox – I still have a tiny indent under my eye from picking off a big one; it felt immensely satisfying at the time, though mum wasn’t best pleased; she made me wear these:

    German measles coincided with losing the ability to see the world clearly without corrective lenses. The good news was that the free, flesh-coloured specs from the National Health hid the chicken pox scar, so it was all good 😉

    http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/vintage-pink-nhs-524-spectacles

    As an aside, wiki says it was named German Measles because German doctors first described it:

    Henry Veale, an English Royal Artillery surgeon, described an outbreak in India. He coined the name “rubella” (from the Latin word, meaning “little red”) in 1866.’

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubella

    Ring Worm … I caught that from our cat:

    I’ve not seen that film but it looks a riot … I’m so gonna have to watch it now to find out if there’s a happy ending 😉 The ring worm carrier, on the other hand, had 4 kittens we named Ringo, Bingo, Bangor and Bongo, after the Beatles … I remember that we’d recently watched ‘Yellow Submarine’ on the telly. Bongo died unfortunately, but the others went to good homes.

    Never had mumps or scarlet fever. Husband caught mumps not long before I met him. His plums ballooned to the size of melons, apparently … I’d post a likeness but he’s never specified which type – gala probably. Not watermelon or … Yikes!

    That made the kids a nice surprise 12 years into our marriage 😉 I definitely feel that we hit the jackpot knocking two out at once. Delivered by Caesarian, which I watched in the shiny tiles on the theatre ceiling – that’s an experience I’ll always remember – Louis Prima got stuck by catching his nose somehow, and the doctor had to put his leg up on the table to get better purchase. He got very sweaty, yanking him out, and as a result Lou’s nose had a massive bruise, but that’s all. What was weird was that I could see their births at all because I wasn’t wearing my glasses …

    They have only had chicken pox but were vaccinated with separate jabs for the rest. (I can feel squint you know, and hear the ‘Yeesss’). So, yes, I’m one of those. I find the fact that we have no tin foil in the house somewhat ironic. They are in rude health though, the boys hardly ever get sick. Funny that, despite living with two incorrigible smokers.

    Okay, a little bit of a shambles for you Legs, as you were so very kind to tee it up ❤
    The emboldened bits are for the friends I'll be sending over 😉

    Lastly, I did once get blood poisoning. A couple of years ago, I woke up hot and itchy and feeling just not right. Throughout the course of the day, my arms and legs and face swelled up until I looked like a Wolowizard 😉

    A&E said it was a sudden peanut allergy ("It can occur at any time") as I had scoffed a rather large bag of M&Ms the night before. But it wasn't and that surprised my doctor like hell for some reason, when my blood test result came back. Phew! M&Ms were not the culprit … fuck knows what caused it …

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  6. “Rubella is also known as German measles because the disease was first described by German physicians in the mid-eighteenth century.”-Wiki

    Actually I’m betting the wiki-editor missed out a word or two there…like “*precisely* described”…

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  7. There was an outbreak of Scarlet Fever here last year, my grandson caught it but his sister didn’t. He was only off colour for a couple of days though, when I was a kid it was considered serious, never had it myself. All I can remember was Measles and Whooping Cough.

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  8. Pingback: Abscess Makes the Heart Grow Fonder – Library of Libraries

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