Friday image: The Red Tongues of Point

No, The Red Tongues of Point isn’t a punk band from the Eye Peninsula but rather a reference to an outbreak of Scarlet Fever at Aird School in December 1907.  The school log book for the month notes a series of unfortunate events.

On 6 December, the school is closed due to a death in the teacher’s family.  The following week, attendance at the school has decreased as parents hold their children back as they are suffering either suffering from Scarlet Fever or they are scared of their own children becoming infected.  The outbreak is so bad that the Lewis District Committee close the school for a period of three weeks from 16th December, thus providing the non-ill children with an extended Christmas break.

Scarlet Fever, sometimes called scarletina,  is not so common these days but outbreaks weren’t unusual within schools in the early 20th century before antibiotics were available to knock it on the head.  It could potential lead to death in young children so its no wonder parents were fearful of their children going to school during an outbreak.  The symptoms consist of a sore throat, fever, a red rash and a strawberry coloured tongue – the latter two presumably being where the name comes from.

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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