1901 Scarlet Fever Outbreak

In September 1901, a serious outbreak of fever swept through Dixon’s Rows, at the terraced miners homes at Stonefield, Blantyre.

Most of the 170 reported cases in the newspapers were considered ‘enteric’ i.e relating to intestines, but some fever had developed into a more serious scarlet fever, resulting in hospitalisation. Some residents had been taken to the County Hospital at Motherwell.

By October, the following month however, Dr Grant felt the need to intervene in the reporting of this local pandemic. He wrote to the Hamilton Advertiser asking for their reporters NOT to exaggerate the number of cases and that 59 had been reported to him, as Doctor of the area, and not 170 as reported. Dr Grant was quite scathing in his criticism of the reporting, asking for reporters to approach HIM in future and not get gossip from street corners.

The outbreak however was played down. Fever had hit these miners homes, not just affecting men unable to work in the pit, but also inflicting illness on full families and generations within the same family. By the end of 1901, the spread of this fever had been contained and was on the wane.

122 years later its easy to forget that there was a lack of welfare and medical care, doctors only called for in the most serious of situations given an invoice would follow shortly after. Stories like this make me incredibly appreciative of the NHS we have today.

Leave a Reply