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 Mary's Blindness - Cause

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Davetucson
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PostSubject: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:38 pm


Mary and Carrie and baby Grace and Ma had all had scarlet fever. The Nelsons across the creek had had it too, so there had been no one to help Pa and Laura. The doctor had come every day; Pa did not know how he could pay the bill. Far worst of all, the fever had settled in Mary's eyes, and Mary was blind.

For many young readers, the account struck fever in the hearts. The lives of Mary, who was the well-behaved sisterly nemesis to main character Laura, and of the readers were inexplicably changed. However, researchers have long wondered about the mystery of Mary Ingalls, now believing that many cases of blindness then attributed to scarlet fever were not caused by scarlet fever at all. So what caused Mary Ingalls's blindness?

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital purport to know the answer. By combing contemporary documents, including Laura Ingalls Wilder's own letters, they found evidence that 14-year-old Mary had suffered from symptoms of a stroke. A local newspaper wrote off a hemorrhage that Mary had suffered, causing partial paralysis in her face. According to Health Day, Wilder herself wrote in a 1937 letter to her daughter that her sister had suffered from "spinal meningitis", before crossing out those words and replacing them with "some sort of spinal sickness".

The researchers believe that Mary did not suffer from scarlet fever, but rather viral meningoencephalitis. That "could explain Mary's symptoms, including the inflammation of the facial nerve that left the side of her face temporarily paralyzed," study senior author Beth Tarini said in a statement, "and it could also lead to inflammation of the optic nerve that would result in a slow and progressive loss of sight."

However, not everyone is convinced by this rewriting of the mystery. Dr. Bruce Hirsch, from North Shore University Hospital, agreed that scarlet fever was not the cause of Mary's blindness. However, he believes that Ingalls likely suffered from a viral infection and a fever that caused dehydration, which blocked a vein that supplies the eyes with blood. "If meningoencephalitis caused enough nerve damage to blind you, it would be unusual for it to just hit that part of the brain without causing a more general injury," he argued to HealthDay.

Researchers believe the real cause of Mary's blindness was changed by the editors, because scarlet fever was rampant in the late 19th century and easier for readers to understand.

Scarlet fever is treatable today, but back then scarlet fever was fatal in 15 to 30 percent of cases, CBS reports.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:28 pm

Wow. interesting facts about Mary Ingalls. . Yeah, I can understand Laura change it, so be easier for readers to reads. Lot of girls and boys reading the book over the years. Won't understand spinal meningitis. Unless, one of their family member is a doctor.




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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:03 pm

oh wow.interesting


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:22 pm

You beat me to it Dave. Here is the link to the story if anyone wishes to read it in full.
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/scarlet-fever-probably-didnt-blind-mary-ingalls/


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:27 pm

If you remember Laura tells and has illustrated in her book how thirsty she was. I'm sure they all were, and it might have affected Mary to an extreme. There was just no one really to care for them so they were at the mercy of one another.
I am just so glad Mary did go on to accomplish so much more learning in years after this tragedy. She is certainly an inspiration!




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PostSubject: The REAL Reason.   Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:38 am

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2273288/Little-House-Prairie-Study-reveals-Mary-Ingalls-went-blind-meningoencephalitis-scarlet-fever.html

Study reveals the REAL reason sister Mary Ingalls from beloved 'Little House on the Prairie' series went blind as a teenager - and it WASN'T scarlet fever
New study shows that the older sister of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of 'Little House' series, suffered from a meningitis-type illness

In the books, scarlet fever settles in Mary's eyes and she is blinded
By BETH STEBNER
PUBLISHED: 15:53 GMT, 4 February 2013 | UPDATED: 14:00 GMT, 5 February 2013
Comments (98)
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In the much-loved 'Little House on the Prairie' books, readers learn how Laura Ingall's older sister, Mary, went blind when she caught scarlet fever and the disease settled in her eyes.
But now medical experts say that the literary disease - that has affected the likes of 'Little Women's Beth March and the child from 'The Velveteen Rabbit' - was not the cause of the young pioneer's blindness.
A new analysis claims that Mary instead suffered from a meningitis-like disease, meningoencephalitis, which could have settled in her brain and spine and caused her to lose her vision.
Out on the plains of the prairie, little medicine was available to treat even the most common of diseases, and on top of that, scarlet fever was often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other illnesses.



Blinded: A new study claims that Mary Ingalls, pictured right in real life, and left from her television portrayal, played by Melissa Sue Anderson, went blind from a meningitis-like disease, rather than scarlet fever

TV adaptation: The memoirs were adapted into a popular fictionalized TV version, which aired in the 1970s and 80s

Stranger than fiction: The real-life Caroline and Charles Ingalls, known as Ma and Pa in the series; Pa was known for his fiddle playing and his sparkling blue eyes
Using historical documents, texts, and records, medical officials discovered that there was an uncertainty about Mary's illness.
In Laura's letters and unpublished memoir, she wrote about her sister suffering 'some sort of spinal sickness.'
And a registry at an Iowa college for blind students that Mary attended says 'brain fever' caused her to lose her eyesight, the researchers said.
They found no mention that Mary Ingalls had a red rash that is a hallmark sign of scarlet fever. It's caused by the same germ that causes strep throat.

It is easily treated with antibiotics that didn't exist in the 1800s and is no longer considered a serious illness.
Doctors used to think blindness was among the complications, but that's probably because they misdiagnosed scarlet fever in children who had other diseases, said study author Dr Beth Tarini, a pediatrician and researcher at the University of Michigan.
Her study appears online Monday in Pediatrics.


Prairie home companion: Writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, pictured at seventeen, ca 1884, left, and right, one of nine books in the 'Little House' series documenting the joys and struggles of living on the prairie; Laura, pictured in the red dress, had three sisters, including Mary, center, Carrie, center right, and Grace, far right

Little home in Missouri: The home of Mary's sister, Laura Ingalls Wilder in Mansfield, Missouri
It's the latest study offering a modern diagnosis for a historical figure.
SCARLET FEVER: FAST FACTS
Scarlet fever often affects children and young adults and is caused by an infection from the A Streptococcus bacteria. In the 1800s when Americans lived on homesteads and shanties miles away from the nearest doctor, the disease was especially frightening.
Today, it is easily treated with antibiotics and is not considered a serious illness.
Those with the fever show symptoms of a rash, fever, headache, and vomiting.
Some complications may include issues with the bones, such as arthritis, ear infections, meningitis, and pneumonia. It is not known to cause blindness.
Others subjected to revisionists' microscope include Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, composer Wolfgang Mozart and Abraham Lincoln.
Dr Tarini said as a girl she was a fan of the 'Little House' books and wanted to research Mary Ingalls' blindness ever since scarlet fever came up during a medical school discussion.
'I raised my hand and said, 'Scarlet fever can make you go blind, right?'' The instructor hesitated and responded, 'I don't think so,' she told the Associated Press.
Meningoencephalitis can be caused by bacteria and treated with antibiotics, but Dr Tarini said it's likely Mary had the viral kind, which can be spread by mosquitoes and ticks, which were abundant at Plum Creek.
The viral disease is fairly common today, particularly in summer months and can cause fever, headaches and sometimes seizures, said Dr Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.
Affected children typically require hospitalization but lasting effects are uncommon, Dr Creech said.



Research: Dr. Beth Tarini, a pediatrician and researcher at UMHS, is the author of a study that suggests that Mary Ingalls, sister of Laura Ingalls Wilder, went blind from a meningitis-like disease

Still, blindness can occur if the disease affects the optic nerve, and it's entirely possible that Mary Ingalls had the condition, he said.
Historian William Anderson, author of Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, said various theories about Mary Ingalls' blindness have been floating around for years.
The new analysis provides credible evidence that it was caused by something other than scarlet fever, but it does nothing to discredit the books, Anderson said.
'From a literary standpoint, scarlet fever just seemed to be the most convenient way' to describe Mary's illness, he said.
The books are a favorite among young and old readers alike, with Wilder bringing to life her days growing up in the 1870s in the big woods of Wisconsin. They were published between 1932 and 1943, and provided a welcome respite for readers burdened with the realities of the Great Depression and World War II.
The series chronicles the hardships and triumphs of pioneer life, as she, her Ma, Pa, and sisters Mary, Carrie, and later Grace, travelling to Kansas, Minnesota, and Iowa.
It also tells of plentiful summers on Silver Lake, the horrific blizzard of 1881, and her courtship and marriage to Almanzo Wilder.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2273288/Little-House-Prairie-Study-reveals-Mary-Ingalls-went-blind-meningoencephalitis-scarlet-fever.html#ixzz2K6tGr6dt


Kinda took me by surprise, but very interesting.


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Krissy
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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:19 am

instersting! Smile


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:00 pm

Ah you beat me to it Dave.


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:53 pm

Wow, this news is just all over the place right now! It's pretty amazing to see our beloved Little House on the Prairie at the forefront of CURRENT news! Thumbsup I love that it might 'remind' people of the show, perhaps those who used to love it who may be nudged to check out the series or books again, or else bring newcomers young and old to either the show or the books. yes
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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:10 pm

NPR had a story on this today on All Things Considered: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=171413261&m=171415166


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:45 pm

That is so interesting. Thank you for sharing it! Thumbsup


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:46 pm

Thank you for sharing the info. I can't imagine what she went through.
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PostSubject: Mary Ingalls and Scarlet Fever   Tue May 06, 2014 7:14 am

I am wondering if there ever was an episode of the LHOTP television show where Mary had Scarlet fever, because her getting sick was part of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. It has been a while since I watched the episode where Mary went blind, so I don't remember if it is mentioned how she went blind. But I did not know if there was an episode of the show where she was sick with Scarlet Fever, because I have not seen it if there is an episode.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Tue May 06, 2014 8:46 am

That would have been nice if they did/


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Tue May 06, 2014 10:59 am

That would be in the pilot movie. The whole family is sick and Dr. Tann comes and helps them. Mary didn't go blind right away.....it was years later, but if you didn't see the pilot, you wouldn't know they had been sick.....  Wink 



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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Tue May 06, 2014 11:30 am

ingallsfan2008 wrote:
I am wondering if there ever was an episode of the LHOTP television show where Mary had Scarlet fever, because her getting sick was part of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. It has been a while since I watched the episode where Mary went blind, so I don't remember if it is mentioned how she went blind. But I did not know if there was an episode of the show where she was sick with Scarlet Fever, because I have not seen it if there is an episode.

Scarlet fever is mentioned in "I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away" Season 4. Dr. Burke is told by Charles that Mary had scarlet fever.........


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Tue May 06, 2014 3:14 pm

[bT]he following was written in the Huffpost in Feb, 2013[/b]
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/mary-ingalls-blindness-scarlet-fever-little-house-brain-fever_n_2615195.html

Mary Ingalls Blindness: Scarlet Fever Wasn't The Cause Of 'Little House' Sister's Vision Loss
By LINDSEY TANNER 02/04/13 12:11 AM ET EST AP

CHICAGO -- Any fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved "Little House" books knows how the author's sister Mary went blind: scarlet fever. But turns out that probably wasn't the cause, medical experts say, upending one of the more dramatic elements in the classic stories.

An analysis of historical documents, biographical records and other material suggests another disease that causes swelling in the brain and upper spinal cord was the most likely culprit. It was known as "brain fever" in the late 1800s, the setting for the mostly true stories about Wilder's pioneer family.

Scarlet fever was rampant and feared at the time, and it was likely often misdiagnosed for other illnesses that cause fever, the researchers said.

Wilder's letters and unpublished memoir, on which the books are based, suggest she was uncertain about her sister's illness, referring to it as "some sort of spinal sickness." And a registry at an Iowa college for blind students that Mary attended says "brain fever" caused her to lose her eyesight, the researchers said.

They found no mention that Mary Ingalls had a red rash that is a hallmark sign of scarlet fever. It's caused by the same germ that causes strep throat. It is easily treated with antibiotics that didn't exist in the 1800s and is no longer considered a serious illness.

Doctors used to think blindness was among the complications, but that's probably because they misdiagnosed scarlet fever in children who had other diseases, said study author Dr. Beth Tarini, a pediatrician and researcher at the University of Michigan.

Her study appears online Monday in Pediatrics.

It's the latest study offering a modern diagnosis for a historical figure. Others subjected to revisionists' microscope include Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, composer Wolfgang Mozart and Abraham Lincoln.

Tarini said as a girl she was a fan of the "Little House" books and wanted to research Mary Ingalls' blindness ever since scarlet fever came up during a medical school discussion.

"I raised my hand and said, `Scarlet fever can make you go blind, right?'" The instructor hesitated and responded, "I don't think so."

The disease that Mary Ingalls probably had is called meningoencephalitis (muh-NING-go-en-sef-ah-LY-tis). It can be caused by bacteria and treated with antibiotics, but Tarini said it's likely she had the viral kind, which can be spread by mosquitoes and ticks.

The viral disease is fairly common today, particularly in summer months and can cause fever, headaches and sometimes seizures, said Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. Affected children typically require hospitalization but lasting effects are uncommon, Creech said.

Still, blindness can occur if the disease affects the optic nerve, and it's entirely possible that Mary Ingalls had the condition, he said.

Historian William Anderson, author of Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, said various theories about Mary Ingalls' blindness have been floating around for years. The new analysis provides credible evidence that it was caused by something other than scarlet fever, but it does nothing to discredit the books, Anderson said.

"From a literary standpoint, scarlet fever just seemed to be the most convenient way" to describe Mary's illness, he said.

___


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Wed May 07, 2014 3:34 pm

very interesting article Marilyn  Thumbsup  I think I remember reading a different book where a young girl's blindness was blamed on scarlet fever, but now that I think about it I wonder if it was a misdiagnosis like in the case of Mary Ingalls. Don't remember the name of the book, though.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Mon May 12, 2014 1:04 pm

I think the book is Little Town On The Prairie, but I'm not sure. My books are stored away.
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PostSubject: Did Scarlet Fever Really Cause Mary's Blindness?   Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:44 am

Researchers don't think so.

The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind

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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:27 am

Interesting article! Thanks for posting this, Debbie!


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PostSubject: Re: Mary's Blindness - Cause   Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:34 am

Great article! If only there had been antibiotics in those days. And nowadays we're overusing them.
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