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Public Health

Title: Board of Health Report
Type: Document
Date: 1921
Source: Minnesota Historical Society

Description: This report describes the smallpox epidemic in Red Wing and notes the ages and symptoms of those who had the disease at the time.


Smallpox & Chickenpox #11-XXI.

Minneapolis, Minn.

Goodhue Co., Red Wing C., Jan. 26, 1921. By Dr. J.N. Gehlen

History: Dr. W.M. Sweney, H.O., Red Wing, telephoned Jan. 22 that smallpox was epidemic Widespread outbreak of contagious disease. in Red Wing; some cases of chickenpox were reported; he wished to have assistance.

Investigation: Dr. Sweney states that first case smallpox was reported about Jan. 4; he thinks there were earlier cases without medical attendance. Physicians have promptly reported cases. Epidemiologist Medical professional who studies contagious diseases. saw following cases of smallpox:

Name Sex Age 1st Sympt. Remarks
Wm. Johnson (m) 48 Jan. 18 Vaccinated 22 yrs. ago.
Clyde Johnson (m) 20  "     " Never vaccinated
Phyllis Johnson (f) 22  "     "      ""
Edwardine Haller (f) 12  "     9th      ""
Clifford Erickson (m) 13  "     12th Vaccinated Jan.6
Walter Santleman (m) 14  "     21 Never vaccinated.Central Sch.
Howard Finney (m) 12  "     20      "" Washington Sch.
Benny Robbins (m) 15  "     21      "" Central Sch.
Walter Boige (m) 15  "     20      ""     ""
Lina Heise (f) 15 Dec. 27      ""     ""

The first four above cases reported by Drs. E.A. Johnson and A.G. Beyer as chickenpox now appear as typical smallpox cases. The last 5 cases attended school while sick. Clifford Erickson in pustular Phase of smallpox in which the victim has small blisters on the skin. stage, was seen in F.H. Erickson's clothing store. Dr. Beyer had diagnosed chickenpox in a brother about Dec. 25 and advised vaccination of members of the family.

Public schools have about 1500 pupils; 2 have had smallpox; 329 are vaccinated. Catholic Parochial School and Red Wing Seminary School in Red Wing. have had no cases. Many pupils in both schools had been vaccinated.

With Drs. Sweney, H.O., and M.W. Smith, Physician, State Training School, visited Clarence Johnson, 16, first sympt. Jan. 22. Successfully vaccinated 2 yrs ago; no prodromes; Early symptom of smallpox. onset with superficial vesicular eruption; Smallpox blisters on the skin. vesicles broke on slight pressure. When seen most vesicles were dried, but few new ones on chest, back, face, arms and legs; none on feet or hands. Temp. past few days 100 to 103; did not feel very ill, no exposure to smallpox.

Results: Dr. Sweney, full time Health Officer, seems to do his duty very conscientiously and efficiently, having all known cases under strict quarantine, Isolation to prevent the spread of disease. and according to regulations. The Board of Education, Dr. A.W. Jones, President, was convened and passed resolution to cooperate with Health Officer in excluding unvaccinated children from school, clean up buildings and vaccinate all nonimmunes.

Unvaccinated people.

Drs. Johnson and Beyer stated that some of their cases reported as chickenpox were the first in city and they did not recognize them as smallpox. They are now convinced that these cases are smallpox, and all cases will be reported.

Dr. Smith's diagnosis of chickenpox in Clarence Johnson confirmed.

EC          Director          Epidemiologist