Here we have two cases separated by nine years in which it was found that a Jamaica Plain milkman was spreading typhoid fever on his route. We forget how common it was for infectious diseases to run through cities, especially the children. My own parents' house was quarantined during the 1950s when my older brother had scarlet fever. The first article here is from 1899, and the remaining three are from 1908. Epidemics like these led to requirements for milk to be pasturized.
Boston Daily Globe July 26, 1899
Typhoid Fever In Jamaica Plain
Three New Cases Reported Today, Making 24 Since July 14 - Milkman Taken in Hand by Health Department.
The board of health has discovered a serious typhoid epidemic at Jamaica Plain.
Since July 14 there have been 24 cases of typhoid fever, six of which were reported on the 20th, five on the 17th, and five Monday. There were three new cases yesterday from the same section.
These cases are in homes furnished with milk by a man who has 300 customers and by another milkman who has been taking two cans of milk form the first-mentioned milkman.
Dr. O'Shea of the health department, with inspectors, has gone to the bottom of the matter. On July 14 this group of cases started, and, as in every other case of typhoid fever, a thorough investigation of the cases is made with special reference to the milk and water supply, the house drainage plumbing, etc. As other cases were investigated they were found to be in families who had been taking milk from the same man.
The farm was visited and was found to be an old place. The wife of the milkman died of typhoid fever last week, and while sick and on her feet attended to the various duties of the milk farm, the washing of cans, etc. The drain from the sink and the outhouse was into the cellar of the barn, where about two feet of water was found, and a very short distance from the barn was an old well, the water of which was not good enough to drink, but which, it is stated, was used to wash the milk cans.
The milkman was in consultation with the board of health Monday, and was told in the plainest language what was expected of him in the future, and was instructed as to the handling of his milk.
Dr Durgin states that all cows and the milk plant have been removed to safe quarters. The old premises have been thouroughly disinfected and the requirements of the board of health regarding the storage of milk and the care of the cans must be strictly adhered to. Under the new law this milkman, until he has conformed to the board of health's regulations, will not be allowed to distribute his milk in this city.
Boston Daily Globe April 11, 1908
Milkman, Himself Victim, Spread Disease.
J.J. Fallon Worked a Fortnight Without Suspecting Illness.
The board of health yesterday traced the spread of typhoid fever in Jamaica Plain to John J. Fallon of 236 Lamartine st, a milk distributor in that section, who died early yesterday morning.
The autopsy made on the body by medical examiner Magrath, assisted by Dr Shea of the board of health, revealed the fact that Mr Fallon was suffering from the disease as early as March 15 or earlier.
The board issued the following statement last night:
"It is now in full evidence that a man who died today of typhoid fever in Jamaica Plain was suffering from this disease as early as March 15 or earlier, during which time he was at work daily testing and otherwise handling the milk supply which we have been suspecting since April 2. This man not only could have infected the said milk, but most likely did contiuously for a period of at least the last half of March, having been at work handling the milk in
question until March 30 without suspecting his illness.
"The first suspicion of typhoid fever in this case was on April 2 and it was reported April 3. His premises, utensils and employees were all carefully examined, attended to and his source of milk supply changed.
"The health department has no reason to suspect infection in the present milk supply in Jamaica Plain.
"It may be said that there are now, as usual, other scattered cases of this disease about the city, and although the board does not think they have arisen from the same source they are all under investigation."
The total number of cases of typhoid fever reported to the board of health up to last night from Jamaica Plain since March 31 was 237, of which seven were reported since 9 a.m. The number for the preceeding 9 a.m. was 20, or one less than the number of the day before.
A second victim of typhoid fever in Jamaica Plain yesterday was Mrs Sophia S Engstrom, aged 46, of 10 Plainfield st, who died at the City hospital at 3 o'clock yesterday morning. She leaves a husband and one son.
Mr Fallon was 43 years old. he leaves a wife, one son and a daughter.
Boston Daily Globe April 14, 1908
Think Worst Is Over
Health Officials Take Hopeful View of Typhoid Epidemic.
The health officials believe that the worst of the typhoid epidemic is over. At Jamaica Plain there is a slight increase, the total being 272 cases. Throughout the city there is a total of 348 cases.
Boston Daily Globe May 8, 1908
To Seven Families.
Typhoid Has Brought Death in Jamaica Plain.
No Less Than 40 Patients From District in City Hospital.
The typhoid fever epidemic that is rating in Jamaica Plain has brought death to no less than seven well-known families of that district, and there are at least 10 patients in the City hospital at present.
On April 10 Frank and Lucy McGraw of 20 St Rose st, Jamaica Plain, were taken to the City hospital. When they entered Lucy McGraw was by far in the worse condition of the two. On Friday of that week, three days after he entered the hospital, McGraw took a change for the worse and died the next day.
April 12 Michael O'Keefe and Edward O'Keefe of 29 St Rose st, Jamaica Plain, were taken to the hospital. Two days later, Michael was placed on the dangerous list, but his condition improved, and today he is getting along nicely. Edward, however, whom the doctors expected would be out shortly after his entrance to the hospital, developed peritonitis and died. He died one week after his chum McGraw.
To add to the trouble of the O'Keefe family two more children were taken to the City hospital two days after the first two. Robert Jr and Agnes are at present on the road to recovery.
None of the three surviving O'Keefe children are aware of the fact that Edward is dead. Lucy McGraw is still under the impression that her brother Frank is living and asks for him daily.
The Cullen family of Jamaica Plain are also hit hard by the disease, two sons, Frank and Fred, entering the institution the same day. Frank, the older of the two, died three weeks after entering the hospital.
One of the saddest cases of the epidemic was that of James Gaffney, a well-known stableman of the district. Mr Gaffney became ill during the early stages of the epidemic and was taken to the City hospital. His condition was dangerous from the first. While he was in the hospital his little daughter was stricken, but was treated at their home on Sylvia st.
The day after she died at her home Mr Gaffney passed away at the hospital.
Joseph Becker, aged 14, living on Green st, Jamaica Plain, died at the home of his parents after an illness of about two weeks.