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Barb D
08-15-2009, 04:24 PM
I need a disease for which kids are vaccinated now but that could have caused an epidemic in 1902. I would prefer that the disease be mostly non-fatal and have mostly non-permanent effects.

I need my time traveling MC from the present to be exposed to it in 1902 but not get it.

I've thought of polio, but many people were killed or permanently disfigured by it.

I've thought of smallpox, but kids are no longer vaccinated against it.

I've thought of flu, but the shots now might not have been effective against the strains then.

I've thought of typhoid, but there would have been no reason for my time-traveler to get the vaccine since she wasn't PLANNING on traveling. (Typhoid would have been perfect otherwise, because there actually were cases of typhoid in the town my story takes place in.)

Chicken pox might do, although I'd like the doctor to be needed for a while, and there's not much a doctor can do about chicken pox. Same thing for mumps and diptheria.

Maybe whooping cough? Measles?

Any other ideas?

chevbrock
08-15-2009, 04:57 PM
I thought whooping cough might be what you're after. FYI, there's actually an epidemic happening in our area right now - it's meant that anyone who is a parent or a caregiver of a young child should and can be immunized for free. They've also brought back a newborn's first immunisation from eight weeks to six weeks because of the prevalence of it.

RJK
08-15-2009, 05:09 PM
There are several third world countries that require you to get typhoid, yellow fever and other vaccinations before you can get a visa to enter. If your MC is a world traveler she may have received thos vaccinations as part of her travels.

alleycat
08-15-2009, 05:10 PM
My first thought was diphtheria. There wasn't a vaccine for it until a few years later, but by 1902 there were a number of ways to treat the disease.

However the death rate was still moderately high with diphtheria until sometime in the 1940s.

Aquilegia
08-15-2009, 07:10 PM
I'm going throw in good ol' tuberculosis. Yes, it did/does kill quite a lot of people and even in survivors there are remnants, but lots of people survived, too. You could definitely use a doc for more than a little while. There is a vaccine for it and it's been around since the 20's. No idea how effective it is, though. If your MC lives in an area with outbreaks (increasingly common these days) and she's rather health conscious, she may have gotten the vaccine as a precaution.

ETA: Johnnysannie (below) is correct, of course, but if your time traveler gets back to the, um, future she could be treated if she'd caught it. In modern times, plenty of people still carry it (the bacteria never leave your body), but have no visible signs of it. I was presuming she was wasn't staying in the past a long time. Also, I was counting "lingering" as surviving.

Flu would be great. You'd just need to check on what strains were going around back then versus now. H1N1 was what caused the Spanish flu and modern vaccines are supposed to cover it. The vaccine is supposed to help you create antibodies that work against multiple strains anyway. Of course, the flu vaccine isn't 100%. (Looked it up. Hey, I was curious. :-) )

Typhus? I think that would have killed most people, though, because there were no antibiotics then, right? There is a vaccine for it and I suppose you could make up a reason for her to have gotten it.

Also, how old is she and where is she from? In certain parts of Europe kids were vaccinated against small pox even around 25 years ago.

johnnysannie
08-15-2009, 08:03 PM
In 1902 the mortality rates were much higher than today, especially for children and infants.

People died from pneumonia, typhoid, typhus, measles, flu, scarlet fever, whooping cough, smallpox, diptheria, and many other diseases.

Tuberculosis is a disease of progression that lasts years if not lifelong. Very few people who contracted TB in 1902 would have lived - the few that might have would have had to move to a warm, dry climate like Arizona. People in the United States were still dying quite often from TB in the 1930's and 1940's
including some of my ancestors. It would require a doctor but in long-term, not short-term and in 1902 would be pretty much a death sentence.

That said, people born today have some genetic resistance to diseases of the past because they are often descended from those who survived various epidemics and diseases in the past.

GeorgeK
08-16-2009, 04:06 AM
I'm going throw in good ol' tuberculosis. Yes, it did/does kill quite a lot of people and even in survivors there are remnants, but lots of people survived, too. You could definitely use a doc for more than a little while. There is a vaccine for it and it's been around since the 20's. No idea how effective it is, though. If your MC lives in an area with outbreaks (increasingly common these days) and she's rather health conscious, she may have gotten the vaccine as a precaution.
.

Yes, the BCG Vaccine is available in most non 1st world nations now. It's not easily available now in America due to it's low occurence rate and availability of antibiotics. (Incidentally in America even today most likely the local Health Dept will pick up the tab for antibiotics for documented TB because they fear TB that much (and rightly so)) I've seen TB do some really wierd stuff. It makes sense retrospectively that it is called one of the great impersonators. (It can mimic other diseases even raising some tumor markers in the blood).

Kalyke
08-17-2009, 01:11 AM
Rubella is good (German Measles). Many children's graves from that time period.
Try Scarlet fever that was a very popular and deadly disease back then. They cut the hair off of the people who had it to cool their heads.
Cholora is good if a water source is contaminated. Lots of nice death scenes there.

clevernamehere
08-17-2009, 04:32 AM
TB is a serious illness, but people live for years with it. It is also isn't part of the standard schedule is most developed countries.

Typhoid is a very common cause of death for small children, but it has a lot to do with hygiene. Its not common to vaccinate against it in developed countries.

Rubella is very often a mild disease, people often aren't sure if they've even had it because it can just be a mild rash. (Pregnant women in the late 60s-80s were often tested to see if they had Rubella anti-bodies because Rubella can cause birth defect if the woman catches it while pregnant but many women had no idea if they'd ever had it).

Measles and mumps were very typical childhood diseases up until the mid-20th century, so I think that's what you're looking for. Measles can kill, but even in the developing world the survival rate is about 80%. Mumps is even less likely to kill you, although there is a risk that it can make a boy/man sterile and it looks funny.

Whopping cough lasts a lot longer than either mumps or rubella (3-4 months instead of 3 weeks). Also as a general FYI, it you are older than 28 you may want to see if you need a pertussis and tetanus booster. Many doctors recommend a booster every ten years since pertussis is endemic to the US and Canada.

StephanieFox
08-18-2009, 04:32 AM
Cholora is a good one. The cure (then) would be to drink a lot of purified water since the disease kills by dehydration. It's messy, though.

There were some yellow fever epidemics. Yellow fever can destroy the liver, but it's not always fatal. It's seasonal (mosquitos.)

Typhoid is also a good one. Fatality rates then were 40-75 percent.

Of course, there's always food poisioning. You would not have to know the exact kind but you'd know what it is.

If it doesn't have to be a communicable disease, you could have a kidney stone. Very, very survivable.

padnar
08-18-2009, 09:51 AM
Malaria might suit you.
padma

Barb D
08-18-2009, 06:07 PM
I've decided to go with typhoid fever because there were cases of it then and there. One of my time travelers will have been vaccinated in preparation for a trip to the far east, and the other will get sick.

Tsu Dho Nimh
08-18-2009, 09:05 PM
Measles - the pneumonia from it in the pre-antibiotics, pre-respirator era was quite severe. And it would vanish for a while, then come back and roar through an area, infecting anyone who hadn't been infected the last time.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1470269/a_beginners_guide_to_the_measles.html