Scarlet fever is extremely infectious, is very common among children, and is often more dangerous because of its consequences than on account of the actual fever itself. The symptoms of an ordinary case are that the person complains of shivering, weariness, headache, sickness, and sore throat. In children a convulsive fit instead of shivering not seldom begins the illness. There is great heat and dryness of the skin, and frequently dulness and drowsiness in the patient are quite marked. Some amount of delirium is frequently present. There is thirst, but no desire for food. The pulse is very fast. The appearance of the tongue is peculiar. It is thinly coated with a white fur, but is red at the edges and tip; and numerous minute red points are seen standing out, giving an appearance indicated by the phrase "strawberry tongue" or "raspberry tongue." This is especially seen on the fourth or fifth day of the fever. The sides of the jaws are slightly swollen, stiff, and sore. On the second day of the fever "the rash" comes out. It comes out in fine red points so numerous, and grouped so closely, that the skin appears red all over. Appearing first on the face, sides of the neck, and breast, it quickly spreads all over the body. It is most intense by the fourth day, and begins to fade on the fifth, disappearing before the end of the seventh. By drawing the tip of the finger firmly over the skin, a white mark is produced which shows up its intense redness, by contrast. The soreness of the throat may be felt a day or two before the fever. It increases up to the time of the rash appearing. The tonsils are very red and swollen. In ordinary cases it diminishes when the eruption reaches its height. With the fading of the rash the pulse becomes less quick, the fever lessens, all the symptoms improve, and in the course of a few days the fever and its attendant conditions will have departed. With the disappearance of the rash, another peculiarity of the disease then presents itself, namely, desquamation, or what is generally called "the shedding of the skin" (the scarf-skin). But that is a wrong idea, as can be seen by strict attention to hygiene and cleanliness. There is a peeling-off takes place in the form of scales in very large quantities, like the scales of a fresh herring coming off, but they are not skin: they are diseased matter which has oozed through the pores of the skin, and by the heat of the body dried on its surface, falling off when the rash disappears and the body cools. This will be made plainer and more manifest in the treatment laid down further on. They begin to separate in fine or large scales, or in large flakes, beginning on the neck and chest and spreading to the other parts of the body, the hands and feet being the last. Sometimes, under the ordinary treatment, what is thought to be the scarf-skin of the hand will separate, or fall off, as a glove, and that of the feet like a slipper; but with the sanative, hygienic, non-poisonous herbal treatment it never comes off in this form. This shedding of what is called the skin is, as a rule, complete by the end of the sixth week from the beginning of the fever, but it may end much sooner. Under the botanic or sanative, non-poisonous treatment it never lasts more than three weeks.
Now, while the chief features in the symptoms are the sore throat, the scarlet rash, and the shedding of the scales, and while the above statement gives the symptoms and course of an ordinary, fully-developed attack of scarlet fever, there are some variations. The attack may be mild, exhibiting the main symptoms, but in a very slight degree, and often after the first day or two the patient is so little affected that he or she seriously objects to the confinement. It is to this form that the term scarlatina is applied. It means merely a mild attack of scarlet fever. Practically, however, the mild attack is often found to be more serious than the severe form just described. Scarlatina is capable, by infection, of communicating the worst type of the disease, and causing rapid death. Moreover, the evil consequences are so common in the disease that they as readily attend the mild as the severe form. In a mild case it is often difficult to impress the patient—or, in the case of a child, its parents, or nurse— with a due sense of the risks. Less care is exercised, there is improper exposure, and dropsy or other symptoms of kidney disease speedily appear. The mildest case of scarlatina ought to be treated with the same watchful care as the most severe.
There are even still milder cases of scarlet fever. A child may be feverish and unwell for a day or two, and then apparently becomes quite well, though unusually pale and not strong. No rash has appeared, or at least none has been noticed, but in a week or ten days the glands at the side of the jaws swell, the ears become sore and perhaps what is thought to be the skin peels off; or other symptoms lead to the conclusion that he child has suffered from scarlet fever.
Again, there is a malignant form of the disease in which there is great brain disturbance, convulsions, and low muttering delirium. The tongue is dry, the throat dark red, ulcerated and sloughing. The rash comes out late, and speedily disappears. Death may occur before the rash has time to appear. Abscesses may form in the throat or in the glands at the sides of the jaw; suppuration may occur in the nostrils and in the eustachian tube leading to the ear. Disease of the ear, accompanied by discharge and ending in deafness is common. Various affections of the membrane surrounding the heart (pericardium) and lung (pleura) may arise. Rheumatism is apt to follow. The chief result is inflammation of the kidneys, attended by dropsy, and albumen in the urine. Inflammations of the eyes are not infrequent. The infection of scarlet fever is undoubtedly at its worst during the shedding of the scales, but is not limited to this period. It is very probable that the sore throat is also infectious, and that, therefore, the disease is "catching" from its commencement to its termination—that is, if not treated rightly and under the purely sanative, hygienic, non-poisonous herbal system. I have never known of a single case of infection being taken by those in attendance upon, or by those living in the same house with, those suffering with scarlet fever.
The main cause of the fever is the internal condition of the body, which makes it susceptible to scarlet fever infection—brought about by the eating of measly pork and bacon; or bacon and pork which may have been infected with swine fever; or fish in process of decay.
Treatment for Scarlet Fever with Non-Poisonous Herbal Remedies.—In an adult case: put the patient into a clean bed, and have a good fire in the room. Keep the patient warm. Keep the room door open, and if the patient be in a front room keep the back room window open about one inch, and you will then have all the ventilation and fresh air required. Then make a preparation of the following ingredients:—
Yarrow (i.e., Thousand-leaf), 1 oz.
Red Sage, 1 oz.
Black Horehound, 1 oz.
Angelica Herb, 1 oz.
Lump Ginger, crushed, 1 oz.
Break or cut the herbs in bits, and put them into a pan with the crushed Ginger and 2 quarts of cold water. Put them on the fire, bring them to the boil, and boil gently for about 15 minutes. Then strain. Give a half-teacupful every 15 minutes, with half a teaspoonful of Anti-spasmodic Tincture or 3rd Preparation of Lobelia in it. Continue giving it until the patient sweats very freely; and then, after the body has cooled down again, sponge the patient all over with vinegar and hot water, wipe dry, put clean clothing on; then put the patient back into bed, and give a dose of the medicine every 3 hours. Be sure to wash or sponge the body down every day with the vinegar and hot water, which should be of the strength of 1 pint of vinegar to 3 pints of hot water. Also keep a jar of vinegar and water in the room as a disinfectant, as well as sprinkling the room floor with it.
Now let us try to see why the above treatment has so beneficial an action on the body.
The Yarrow keeps the kidneys in good condition through its diuretic, stimulating, and astringent properties.
Red Sage has also stimulant, tonic, and stomachic properties which assist in keeping the stomach and digestive organs in good condition.
Black Horehound, having pectoral and antacid properties, acts specifically on the lungs and stomach by neutralising the acid accumulation therein, and also in the bowels.
The Angelica, having anti-febrifuge properties, acts upon the mucous surfaces of the stomach and bowels, the secretory and sebaceous glands, causing moisture and perspiration to take place, and so preventing dryness.
Ginger is stimulating, and assists in equalising the circulation of the blood.
The Third Preparation of Lobelia causes relaxation of the muscles, stimulates the liver, prevents sore throat, equalises the nerve current; prevents canker, mortification, and gangrene.
Now, reference has previously been made to what is generally thought to be the skin falling off, but if those in attendance on the patient, or the practitioner, will watch the sponging of the body of the patient every day with vinegar and hot water they will see all the scaly substance fall off, and the skin underneath left intact, soft, and moist.
Now in regard to Food and Drink. On no account must any intoxicating drinks be given to the patient, but only hot water, milk and water, rice-water, and occasionally 1 tablespoonful of cold water. No mineral waters or soda waters must be given, or barley-water, on any account. The food may be Slippery Elm Food, Lentil Flour Food, and Comfrey Food (for recipes see article on Typhoid). When the patient has been brought to a state of convalescence, which under the above treatment never takes more than two or three weeks, a good blood mixture and strengthening tonic should be given. Always bear in mind that patients must be kept warm and comfortable; the bed on which they lie must always be kept away from the window and out of any draughts of cold air.
In all cases of children suffering with scarlet fever the treatment should be as follows:—Put 1 oz. of Common or Yellow Hyssop to 3 pints of cold water, and simmer or boil down to 1 quart. Then strain, and while hot administer a wineglassful, with 2 or 3 drops of the Third Preparation of Lobelia (see article on "Lobelia," p. 48) in it, every 1 or 2 hours. This will bring on a good sweat; and when the patient has cooled down again, sponge the body with vinegar and hot water, and afterwards give the Hyssop Tea with the Third Preparation of Lobelia every 3 hours until the patient gets well. Sponge every day, as directed above, and in regard to foods and drink carry out the same instructions as herein laid down for adults. The Hyssop and Third Preparation of Lobelia will not only be found to relieve the lungs—and prevent pneumonia or inflammation—but will also keep them in good order. It also prevents swelling of the throat and glands of the neck and keeps the stomach in good condition, causing a regular evacuation of the bowels. In addition it keeps the kidneys and bladder in good condition, so that the water can be voided through its natural channels, and so prevent inflammation or "Bright's Disease." If the above instructions are fully carried out no bad results need ever be feared in any case of scarlet fever.
Common Plants and their Uses in Medicine was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, F.N.A.M.H., in 1922.