Also known as Eel thing, St. Anthony’s Fire, or rose is a contagious skin disease, due to Streptococci. The disease is characterized by burning heat resulting from an acute inflammation of the skin. The strep bacterium is the cause of the disease. This is the same germ that is responsible for scarlet fever.
Erysipelas outbreaks occurred mainly during the winter months. March was the month wherein most cases occurred. Erysipelas began with a very high fever, chilling, and swelling of the face. During the late 1880’s the standard treatment was to administer laxative “purges” and then to paint the patients face with iodine or silver nitrate. Erysipelas was generally not fatal, unless the person was weakened by other diseases.