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The Kansas Government Information (KGI) Online Library
Kansas government publications, resources and information available from the State Library of Kansas

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Apr 17

Kansas Public Health vs Past Epidemics

Posted on April 17, 2020 at 2:42 PM by Bill Sowers

COVID-19 has at times been compared to influenza outbreaks through the years. But the flu is not the only communicable illness that Kansans have battled. Dipheheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, measles, tuberculosis, chicken pox and mumps are other culprits which spread across out state years ago [with a few making a reappearance within the last decade].

Much like the current actions taken by our state and local public health officials against the Coronavirus one of the best weapon used in the fighting these diseases in the past was educating the public on ways to prevent the spread of an illness, spot the signs of infection in themselves and others, and treatment of those afflicted. Years ago though there was no television, Internet or, before the mid 1920s radio. The printed word was the primary source of providing information.

The Kansas State Board of Health was at the forefront of its day in providing pertinent information to the public on staying vigilent in preventing, identifying and treating health issues in Kansas. Articles, pamphlets, booklets and guides were published and distributed to medical professionals, local health officials and the general public.

We have a set of links here to booklets in the State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library, issued by the Kansas State Board of Health as examples of publications on different communicable diseases in Kansas. They cover the illnesses above and just scratch the surface of the wealth of information the State Board of Health provided in educating Kansans. Often the answer to prevention was good hygiene much like today.

Prevention and Suppression of Epidemic and Malignant Diseases: Diphtheria [1896] 

Prevention and suppression of epidemic and malignant diseases : scarlet fever. [1896] 

Whooping cough and measles. [1910] 

Prevention of tuberculosis [1910] 

Chicken pox, mumps: history, symptoms, prevalence, prevention. [1935] 

Mumps [1940]