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Elizabeth had caught the scarlet fever; her illness was severe, and she was in the greatest danger. During her illness many arguments had been urged to persuade my mother to refrain from attending upon her. She had at first yielded to our entreaties, but when she heard that the life of her favourite was menaced, she could no longer control her anxiety. She attended her sickbed; her watchful attentions triumphed over the malignity of the distemper—Elizabeth was saved, but the consequences of this imprudence were fatal to her preserver. On the third day my mother sickened

Why were they keeping the mother from helping the daughter? Is this a contagious disease or I missed something else?

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlet_fever

Check out the wikipedia entry on that one, I don't know if this is really related, but it is a bacterial infection. Considering that at the time the story goes there were no antibiotics, I might be mistaken on this one but I think people didn't even used to wash hands when handling sick people, I don't know how people were educated though, but that would improve the chances of someone getting sick. Contracting it could be potentially fatal. As it says in the wikipedia article, it was a major cause of infant mortality in the early 20th century.

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    Thank you! I thought there was something I didn't get straight – Myers78 Jan 10 at 22:52

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