In pursuance of a general campaign in favour of immunisation of children against the risks of diphtheria by subjecting them to an injection of toxin antitoxin serum supplied by the Commonwealth Department of health, Bundaberg City Council joined in advocacy and made arrangements for the City Medical Officer to inoculate under civic auspices at inexpensive rates. Numerous parents excepted the invitation; and many intended to take advantage of the safe-guard.
Begun on January 17, the inoculation went apparently well until Friday night when children who were given injections that day showed alarming symptoms These developed rapidly to virulent and fatal blood poisoning resembling anthrax. Twelve children on Saturday died despite all efforts to save them and several more are in critical and dangerous states.
Consternation prevails. Pathologists and others from the Commonwealth Health Department are expected to reach Bundaberg to-day. The discovery of a defect, or the development of an organic change (the medical theory) in the serum is a matter of vital importance, for the Royal Park laboratory supplies public health centres fo he whole of Australia.
Last night the Mayor set in train with the Authorities concerned proposals to the Education Department to allow state school children to parade to-day as a tribute to their dead comrades and wit trades people to suspend business during the period of the funerals as a public mark of respect.
It is an old but true saying "in the midst of life we are in death". Today Bundaberg mourns the loss of twelve fine little children, whose bright young lives were nipped in the bud, as the result of some maleficent quality that developed or was hidden in the immunising serum injected into their arms on Friday for the purpose of assuring their safety against the dreaded diphtheria that is so threatening at this time.
The victims are:-
Thomas Robinson, 5 1/2 years
William Robinson, 4 years
Mervyn Robinson, 23 months
Edward Baker, 5 years
Keith Baker, 3 years
George Baker, 6 years
Marsden Coates, 7 years
William Follitt, 2 1/2 years
Mary Sheppard, 5 years
Monica Sheppard, 2 1/2 years
Myrtle Brennan, 3 1/2 years
Joan Peterson, 5 1/2 years
HOW SEIZURES CAME
So sudden was the happening that the city was not aware of the dreadful consequences until late on Saturday afternoon. The victims disclosed no ill-effects until about 9 o'clock on Friday evening, when they were seized with rather violent attacks of vomiting and diarrhoea.
parents rendered the usual concerned, feeling that the illness was merely the after affects of the inoculation. So these attacks went on during the night.
On Saturday morning Dr Thomson was summoned to one of the homes, and found the child dangerously ill. The child was immediately ordered to the hospital, and the doctor realising that something arising from the serum was amiss, rallied the other medical officers of the city, and sent them after the other children.
MANY FOUND ILL
Dr Thomson accompanied by a nurse, also hastened to other homes, and found the children seriously ill, The parents, themselves, up to this time were ot aware that their little ones were as ill as they were,
The Ambulance were called our, and for the rest of the morning they were engaged rushing through the city , picking up he victims and hurrying them off to the hospital, where everything had been got ready for their reception.
In collecting the children the medical officers did splendid work, some of the children , who had suffered no ill effects, were playing about the yards, and they were hurried to bed, the doctors leaving nothing to chance.
At the hospital there were heartrending scenes. By 11 o'clock there were twenty children in the institution. Doctors and nurses woeked perseveringly in their efforts to save the valuable lives, but in vain.
the serum had done its deadly work, and the children writhed in agony. The nurses never relaxed,. Oxygen was freely used to keep th little hearts gong, but one by one they ceased to beat. At mid-day four of the children had died, and as the afternoon wore on, ther were more deaths, with more to follow int he evening.
TRYING FOR THE STAFF
It was a never-to-be forgotten day for the hospital staff, what with children dying, others writhing in the throes of death and the sobbing of heartbroken parents, sisters and brothers, was a scene, only those who went through it can describe. There were many touching incidents in the ward. Mr & Mrs Sheppard had two of there children die simultaneously. Despite this heavy blow they bore up with true fortitude in hopes of their other two boys pulling through, and at their bedsides a grief stricken father and mother maintain a silent vigil.
SOME STILL IN DANGER
througout the night parents and relatives hung about the hospital aqaitng the latest tidings.
Those dangerously ill are:-
Betty Peterson, 7 years
Jack Sheppard, 8 years
William Sheppard, 6 years
Ernest Docker, 7 years
Brenda Drews, one year
The grief stricken parents are bearing up wonderfully. In the midst of their sorrow they have a kindly word for the other parents who have lost their dear ones, and each has also a kindly word to day foe Dr Ewing Thomson, with whom in the unfortunate position the virulent serum has placed him there is widespread sympathy. He is naturally feeling the position acutely.
THREE BOYS ALL GONE
Mr & Mrs Thos Robinson, East Bundaberg, lost their whole family-three lovely little boys - thomas, willie and Mervyn-described by neighbours as a happy trio, the two elder boys being greatly attached to baby Merv.
Mr and Mrs robinson are natives of England. They came out to Bundaberg six years ago, and their family, now wiped out, were natives of this city. "We did what we thought was in the best interests of the children themselves and for the city, when we decided to have them immunised against diphtheria," said Mr and Mrs Robinson. "Immunisation head been a success in other cities, and we had every confidence in it. But apparently something hs gone wrong, and our little darlings count among the victims. Two days ago the home was full of life, and look at it now."
ILL FROM FRIDAY EVENING
Mr and Mrs Robinson concluded with a kindly thought for Dr Thomson. The children took ill about 9 o'clock on Friday evening and every care was given them by the parents, who summoned a doctor ont he following morning, and their removal to hospital was ordered.
The first to die was Willie, who passed away at midday. Mervyn following two hours later, they had great hopes of pulling Tom through.. He hung on during the night, but the odds were against him and he passed away shortly after 2 o'clock on Sunday morning. Ald C O Baker, who strongly advocated immunisation at the Council table, lost his family - two beautiful boys, Edward, 5 years, and Keith, 3 years - the parents are distracted at their tragic loss, Keith was recently detected as a diphtheria carrier, and was successfully treated in isolation.
At the same time, Mrs Baker was a diphtheria patient. They too felt that they were doing a duty to themselves , their children, and the city. they are now without a family. The boys were inseparable pals. Edward last year suffered a broken leg, the result of a street accident, when he was knocked down by a passing cyclist. The parents have had the bodies embalmed and placed in silky oak caskets for conveyance to Stanthorpe by this evening's mail train.
BURIAL AT STANTHORPE
Mrs Baker's parents, Mr and Mrs Donnelly, reside at Stanthorpe, and has expressed a desire that the children be interred there, and it is quite possible that Mr and Mrs Bakers will take up their residence there.
The children took ill within a few minutes of each other on Friday evening, seized with attacks of vomiting and diarrhoea; and were treated by the parents. The following morning they were ordered to hospital, where Keith died at noon and Eddie at 4 pm.
Mr and Mrs Sheppard, who reside in Burrum street have suffered the loss of their two daughters, mary and Monica, and last evening their tow sons, John and Willie were still dangerously ill.
Mr Sheppard is a railway employee, arriving in Bundaberg form Ipswich two years ago. Prior to coming to Ipswich he was in the Roma district, the children, said Mr Sheppard, took ill during Friday evening, but their seriousness was not realised until the doctor arrived on the following morning,
the girls passed away simultaneously in the afternoon, and for a time the parents expected the boys to follow them, but they are ;putting up a good fight. At a late hour last evening they were still seriously ill,, but there were hopes of their recovery. The parents are watching by their side.
Mr and Mrs Brennan, of Fairymead, lost their 3 1'2 years old daughter, myrtle. the parents are members of the Salvation Army, Mr Brennan holding the position of secretary to the board.
THEIR ONLY CHILD
Mr and Mrs A J Follett of Crofton street, lost their only child W illie, aged 2 1/2 years. He was he first to die, death taking place just as he reached the surgery of Dr Schmidt.
Mr Follett is a member of the Burnett Band.
Mr and Mrs Peterson, who lost their daughter, Joan, aged 5 1/2 years, are residents of Woongarta street, lost to the residence of Dr Thomson. Mr Peterson is attached to the travelling staff of railway telegraph linesmen, at present engaged at Ipswich.
he was fortunate to arrive in Bundaberg on Saturday morning, it being customary for him to spend periodic week-ends with his family.
He was surprised at little Joan an Betty not being at the station to meet him, and on reaching home found them in bed ill. Their removal to hospital was later ordered by Dr Thomson.
Yesterday Betty, aged 7 years, regained consciousness, and asked after joan, Hopes are held out fo Betty's recovery.
ONE WAS SPARED
Mr and Mrs W H Baker, Gavegan street, North Bundaberg, lost their son, George, aged 5 years and 11 months. A happy little boy was George, who received the fatal needle along with his elder brother Frank. the latter suffered no ill-effects, but George took ill during the night.
He died at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Mr Baker is a well;known railway engine driver. Mrs Baker's parents, Mr and Mrs G R Seeney formerly of Gayndah, are expected to arrive this morning form Pialba.
Mr and Mrs G R Coates, lost their 7 years old son, Guy Marsden, whose death occurred at their residence, "The Hermitage," Kalkie, on Saturday morning. he was a sterling lad and very popular with his pals.
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