home
RSS
The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind
Melissa Sue Anderson, right, portrayed Mary Ingalls in the 1970s NBC TV show "Little House on the Prairie."
February 4th, 2013
10:47 AM ET

The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind

If you watched "Little House on the Prairie," chances are you remember the story of Mary Ingalls.

The television show and popular book series drew on the real-life experiences of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Mary, Laura's sister, went blind as a teenager after contracting scarlet fever, according to the story. Now a team of medical researchers are raising questions about whether that's true.

Dr. Beth Tarini, one of the co-authors of the paper, became intrigued by the question as a medical student.

"I was in my pediatrics rotation. We were talking about scarlet fever, and I said, 'Oh, scarlet fever makes you go blind. Mary Ingalls went blind from it,'" recalls Tarini, who is now an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. My supervisor said, "I don't think so."

Tarini started doing research. Over the course of 10 years, she and her team of researchers, pored over old papers and letters written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, local newspaper accounts of Mary's illness and epidemiological data on blindness and infectious disease in the late 19th century. What they found was intriguing.


In Wilder's unpublished memoir, "Pioneer Girl," there is no reference to Mary having scarlet fever the year she went blind. (She did have scarlet fever when she was much younger.) "She never says scarlet fever. She never says rash," Tarini says, pointing out the rash is a telltale sign of scarlet fever.

Digging deeper, when researchers looked at epidemiological data from the time, they saw that most cases of blindness attributed to scarlet fever were temporary. In addition, newspaper accounts of Mary's illness report "severe headaches" and one side of her face being partially paralyzed.

Finally, and perhaps the most important piece of evidence, in a letter Wilder wrote to her daughter, Rose, right before her book "By the Shores of Silver Lake" was published, she makes reference "some sort of spinal sickness". The letter also mentions that Mary saw a specialist in Chicago who said "the nerves of her eyes were paralyzed and there was no hope."

Diagnosis by these disease detectives: viral meningoencephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain and the meninges, the membrane that covers the brain. In severe cases, it can cause inflammation of the optic nerve that can result in a slow and progressive loss of sight.

It may not be the biggest bombshell to hit the medical world, but to "Little House" fans, the question remains: why did Wilder change her sister's illness to scarlet fever? The study authors believe it could be because Wilder and her editors thought scarlet fever would be more relatable to her readers. Scarlet fever is mentioned in other books from the period, including "Little Women" and "Frankenstein."

But there is also an important wider medical lesson we can learn from this research. Today, about 10% of people infected with strep get scarlet fever, says Tarini. It is easily treatable. But because the cultural reference to scarlet fever is so ingrained in our culture, people assume it is very dangerous. "People read as children that scarlet fever makes you go blind," says Tarini. "Parents look concerned ... so I have to debunk it in the office."

The study was published Monday in this week's edition of the journal Pediatrics.


soundoff (1,771 Responses)
  1. repair rv door

    http://se03.cside.jp/~webooo/zippo/naviz.cgi?jump=82&url=https://ocrv.world/dump-truck-collision-repair-paint-shop-near-me-orange-county

    May 27, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. oc windshield

    http://www.historisches-festmahl.de/go.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.co/class-b-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 27, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. rv mechanic near me

    http://www.digitalstage.jp/go/r/r.cgi?t=https://ocrvandtrucks.com/rv-repair-shop-paramount-california

    May 27, 2021 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. bucket truck repair near me

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after going through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    http://directory.hawaiitribune-herald.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.net/western-star-truck-collision-repair-paint-shop-near-me-orange-county

    May 27, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. toyhauler furniture

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    http://www.themza.com/redirect.php?r=ocrv.xyz/motorhome-furniture-near-me

    May 27, 2021 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tembepteriope

    cheapest tadalafil cost buy generic cialis online with mastercard what is tadalafil tadalafil drug https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil liquid

    May 27, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Furniture Near Me

    Very nice write-up. I definitely appreciate this site. Keep it up!

    https://shop.merchtable.com/users/authorize?return_url=https://ocrv.club/rv-repair-shop-valley-glen-california

    May 27, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV AC Orange County

    https://www.etis.ford.com/externalURL.do?url=https://ocrvcenter.net/rv-repair-shop-valencia-california

    May 27, 2021 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Tembepteriope

    tadalafil cialis buy generic cialis online with mastercard prescription tadalafil online buy tadalis https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – generic cialis tadalafil

    May 27, 2021 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Used Forklift Rental California

    You are so interesting! I don't think I have read through something like that before. So wonderful to find someone with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that's needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

    https://searchpoint.net/redir.asp?reg_id=pTypes&sname=/search.asp&lid=1&sponsor=RES&url=http://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/big-joe-forklift-repair-orange-county-california

    May 27, 2021 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rv furniture center.com

    Great site you've got here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    http://sportadmin.se/SSO/?REF=https://ocrv.today/rv-repair-shop-pacoima-california

    May 27, 2021 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. SEO Marketing Services

    Itís difficult to find educated people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://channel.iezvu.com/share/UnboxingyanálisisdeChromecast2?page=https://bjsnearme.com

    May 27, 2021 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Digital Marketing Companies Near Me

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.marianvarga.sk/scripts/redirect.php?http://www.spokanevalleymarketing.com

    May 27, 2021 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. rv parts los angeles

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    http://members.ascrs.org/sso/logout.aspx?returnurl=https://expressioncanada.ca/discussion_fr/index.php?action=profile;u=406357

    May 28, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Los Angeles

    Your style is unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

    http://f001.sublimestore.jp/trace.php?pr=default&aid=1&drf=13&bn=1&rd=https://thedollarhub.com/how-to-make-money-on-youtube-6-effective-strategies/

    May 28, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. bay door repair

    https://www.igive.com/isearch/NonStoreExit.cfm?type=1&isid=0df7d37f-4feb-4f0f-b472-1df60f43914d&rurl=http://crazy4smiths.com/time-stock-mr-clean-products/

    May 28, 2021 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. box truck door repair near me

    Hello there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he'll have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

    https://crimea.rtrs.ru/go/?q=https://article.rabia.co.in/111369/just-how-to-carry-out-investigation-and-also-locate-the-very-best-box-truck-repairs/

    May 28, 2021 at 05:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Paint Shop Orange County

    https://5ivestarlondon.com/track.aspx?click=I&group=Z&item=Primrose+Bakery+Bespoke+Service&url=https://bountyers.ru/косой-хутор-п/

    May 28, 2021 at 05:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Dent Repair Riverside

    I enjoy reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

    /

    May 28, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 40 mg tadalafil

    tadalis 20 mg https://tadalisxs.com/ indian tadalafil

    May 28, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. vinyl wrap motorhome

    I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something relating to this.

    https://www.islulu.com/link.php?url=https://www.publiensayos.com/calentamiento-global-8/

    May 28, 2021 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Furniture Los Angeles

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little changes which will make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    https://etarp.com/cart/view.php?returnURL=https://uccadia.com/manu-dibango-interview-exceptionnelle/

    May 28, 2021 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Dashboard California

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    https://luerzersarchive.com/goto/url/tmtnews.org/sanyo-expansion-brings-future-to-subic/

    May 28, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Headlights Orange County

    https://d.agkn.com/pixel/2389/?che=2979434297&col=22204979,1565515,238211572,435508400,111277757&l1=https://bluesaffireinc.com/2017/08/optional-practical-training-opt-for-f-1-students/comment-page-5301/

    May 28, 2021 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. trusted tire orange ca

    I like it when folks get together and share views. Great site, stick with it!

    /

    May 28, 2021 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Headlights Near Me

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!

    &loyalty_id=14481&member_id=b01bbee6-4592-4345-a0ee-5d71ed6f1929

    May 28, 2021 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Mechanics Riverside

    /

    May 28, 2021 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. orange near me

    https://www.ztjysp99.com/link.php?url=https://www.school-22.cv.ua/?p=8914

    May 28, 2021 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. collision repair riverside ca

    http://www.oltv.cz/redirect.php?url=http://www.inizioart.com/art-organizations/kala-srot-art-gallery-lucknow/

    May 28, 2021 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rv restoration companies

    https://tinyurl.com/br9yevyw

    May 28, 2021 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Service Centers Near Me

    https://cia.org.ar/BAK/bannerTarget.php?url=https://fleetservicerepairshop.com

    May 28, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Van Repair Shops

    http://sogo.i2i.jp/link_go.php?url=https://fleetrepairshops.com

    May 28, 2021 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. rv air conditioner repair near me

    Howdy! I simply would like to give you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you have here on this post. I'll be returning to your blog for more soon.

    http://oltv.cz/redirect.php?url=http://mgc.link/haruka/2019/04/5869/

    May 28, 2021 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv ac maintenance

    https://uii.io/bEvazczt

    May 29, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. camper repair service near me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing this information.

    /

    May 29, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Police Truck Repair Shop

    https://53938.measurementapi.com/serve?action=click&publisher_id=53938&site_id=92394&sub_campaign=g5e_com&url=https://boxtruckrepairshop.com/truck-repair-shop-near-me-3

    May 29, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Truck Repair Shop

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!

    https://www.faseb.org/pdfviewer?loadthis=http://commercialrepairshop.com/box-truck-upgrades-shop-near-me

    May 29, 2021 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Box Truck Upholstery Shop Near Me

    May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody that truly knows what they are discussing on the web. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people have to check this out and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you aren't more popular since you most certainly possess the gift.

    https://pub.accesstrade.vn/deep_link/4511350997178678070?url=https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/semi-truck-upgrades-shop-near-me

    May 29, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Chevrolet High Top Van Repair

    http://www.viidii.info/?https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/van-frame-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 29, 2021 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Tow Truck Repair Shop Near Me

    Your style is unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog.

    http://p113831.typo3server.info/index.php?id=34&type=0&jumpurl=https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/rv-technician-shop-near-me/

    May 29, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Google Marketing Services

    https://www.quanlaoda.com/links.php?url=https://postfallslocal.com

    May 29, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Truck Collision Repair Shop Near Me

    http://aboutlincolncenter.org/component/dmms/handoff?back_url=http://fleetservicesorangecounty.com/police-truck-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 30, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Digital Marketing Company Near Me

    http://www.sns.51.ca/link.php?url=http://www.postfallswebsites.com/

    May 30, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me

    Hello there! This blog post couldnít be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this information to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://www.avitop.com/aviation/link.asp?snd=4208&url=http://marketingpostfalls.com

    May 30, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Google Marketing Agencies

    bookmarked!!, I love your site!

    https://www.senwes.co.za/LinkTrack.aspx?i=Sat24LinkAF&url=https://www.curtismelancon.com/

    May 30, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Digital Marketing Service

    https://developer.vantiv.com/external-link.jspa?url=https://juicycalls.com

    May 30, 2021 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Google Marketing Specialists

    http://content.xyou.com/click.php?aid=88&url=https://seopostfalls.com

    May 30, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Gmc High Top Van Repair Shop

    I really like reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

    http://register.scotland.org/Subscribe/WidgetSignup?url=http://fleetvehiclerepairshop.com/luxury-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 30, 2021 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Content Marketing Agency

    https://www.thevillagesatpinevalley.com/Click.aspx?url=//spokanevalleywebdesign.com/

    May 30, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Air Conditioner Repair Near Me

    Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!

    https://www.ref.webhostinghub.com/scripts/click.php?ref_id=nichol54&desturl=https://www.ocrv.me/

    May 31, 2021 at 00:30 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Leave a Reply to rv air conditioner repair near me


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.