Oct 28, 2012 - From staff reportsPolio was a huge public health concern in the 1950s, but rheumatic fever wasn't far behind. As with many such illnesses, the public schools were a primary battleground for preventive medicine. The condition, a complication of simple strep throat, killed 22,000 Americans in 1950 and often left permanent heart damage in the patients who survived. By 1955, 25 of ever 100,000 Americans contacted rheumatic fever.
The introduction of antibiotics in he 1950s began to help the situation. In Riverton schools, an intensified effort to control rheumatic fever was undertaken, with steady improvements noted. Regular throat cultures were administered to students, and kids with strep throat were told to stay home and seek medical attention before returning. The local results mirrored national outcomes. The infection rate for rheumatic fever had dropped to just one in 100,000.
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