April 27, 1916: Typhoid Outbreak After Fire at Filtration Plant

0427 WTP fire and typhoidApril 27, 1916: Municipal Journal article. Typhoid Follows Burning of Filtration Plant. “South Fork, Pa.-South Fork has a typhoid fever epidemic. There are ten people ill with the disease now and a number of suspects are under observation. South Fork authorities say the sickness is the result of people not heeding the warning of the board of health to boil the water during the period in which the water was not treated because of fire destroying the filtration plant. The plant was burned several weeks ago. Circulars were distributed all over the town asking the people to boil all water used for domestic purposes. Ministers and school teachers announced the warning and the newspapers published it. Analysis of the water while the filtration plant was not working indicated possibilities of typhoid. The plant is again in operation and tests show the water free from pollution.”

Reference: “Typhoid Follows Burning of Filtration Plant.” 1916. Municipal Journal article 40:17(April 27, 1916): 590.

Commentary: Typhoid fever was still endemic in the U.S. in 1916. Any breakdown in the water treatment barriers caused spikes in disease such as the one described in this article. This also shows the problem with public notification. I guess that they did not have Twitter and Facebook back then.

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