17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Sunday, December 15, 1912: Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Jimmie also has the pink eye and says I gave it to him. He was real mad for a time.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Poor Jimmie—pink eye is no fun.
Did the Muffly’s try to prevent the spread of pink eye?
Here’s what I found in a hundred-year-old book called Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women about how to avoid infections (though it focuses on influenza rather than pink eye).
We have already seen that bacilli are not only the cause of acute infections, but also of chronic bronchitis, and that this was especially true of the bacillus of influenza and the pneumococcus of pneumonia.
It is well know that influenza is an infectious disease, which rapidly spreads through the family and the community., but it is not so well-known that the so-called “common colds,” ordinary sore throat, and tonsillitis are also highly contagious. The infection is carried from one person to another by direct contagion; the air is being constantly sprayed with the germs of disease in talking, laughing, sneezing, and coughing. In coughing and sneezing it is not sufficient to hold the hand before the moth—a handkerchief must be used for this purpose.