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Reading this paper on Scarlet Fever was a more poignant experience for me than it would have been had I practised elsewhere. The case of my predecessor, Dr Duncan Monteith Ferguson, illustrates how in the pre-penicillin era this disease was a killer and serves as a warning against taking for granted the role of antibiotics even in our resistance-ridden age.
This doctor was the first GP to work in the village in which I am currently a GP. He was born in Edinburgh on 21 December 1871 and he died prematurely on May 10th 1900 of Scarlet Fever in Hampton-in-Arden, West Midlands. In his obituary in the Village Chronicle is written;“Death has been terribly busy in our midst during the past few months, removing many from us who were deeply loved; and now with great sorrow we have to mourn the loss of Dr Duncan Monteith Ferguson at the early age of twenty-nine.”
Scarlet fever is not always a “mild and self-limiting illness”.