The Clinton Public
DeWitt County, Illinois
Thursday, February 12, 1863
Terrible Epidemic in Plymouth, Ind.
A terrible epidemic has broken out in Plymouth, Indiana, completely baffling the physicians, and carrying off every patient in a few hours. No symptoms indicate its approach. The patient is attacked with a chill, and thinks he has the ague, but as soon as it is over, the patient sinks into a kind of stupor, from which he rarely revives. The muscles are rigid; the pupil of the eye is insensible to either light or touch; the surface of the body is extremely tender and sensitive; the head is drawn back, the jaws are fixed, and the breath is drawn forcibly, with a hissing sound, as if by great effort, through the closed teeth; the patient is blind and deaf.
In children the stupor is likely to be broken by frequent convulsions. During the stupor large black spots, many of them raised up like blisters, appear on the surface of the body; the patient usually dying in from two to four hours. In some rare cases the patient lingers along for days, in a species of low typhoid fever, accompanied with blindness, deafness, paralysis, &c. In some cases the patient revives so as to believe himself convalescent, but is soon seized with a terrible delirium, terminating in coma and death.
The local physicians finding their efforts unavailing, Dr. J. Adams Allen, of the Rush Medical College of Chicago, was called, who recognized the disease as cerebro-spinal meningitis, a disease which appeared first in New York and New England during the war of 1812-’14, carrying off many American soldiers; and in Virginia in the most frightful form in 1862. This disease appeared in Michigan during the winter of 1848-’49, known as the spotted fever or spotted death. It raged terribly in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Cold Water and other portions of the State. As the result of his observations at that time, Dr. Adams recommended stimulants to the surface, tincture of Mur. Ferri. and tincture of cantharides internally; and concentrated nutriment, such as essence of beef and egg, all the patient will take. This treatment is working well at Plymouth now.
This disease leaves the patient in a typhoid fever and very low, and liable to loss of sight or hearing and paralysis, upon recovery.
Thank you, Judy Simpson, Dewitt County, Illinois
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