The scourge of typhoid ripped through mining camps across Western Australia, but it was not only miners who caught the disease.
The disease peaked over the 1890s and 1900s.
The Western Australia gold fields boasted the” largest episode of epidemic typhoid in Australia’s history”, according to the Western Australia museum.
Nearly 2000 people in Western Australia were officially recorded as dying of the disease, though the actual number was far greater. Most deaths occurred on the goldfields. An estimated ten times more people suffered from the disease.
Kalgoorlie policeman Edwin Tindall found that his ‘fine physique’ could not resist typhoid, and he died in the Kalgoorlie Government Hospital after a brief but severe illness. He is buried in the Kalgoorlie cemetery.
The existence of such terrible diseases resulted in the development of equally awful quackeries. One, which was available all around the world, was Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills.
Clever advertising, including the use of local testimonies, shored up its popularity.
“They have saved dozens of people in W.A. from contracting the fever, and they have cured its weakening after effects in scores of cases.
“Here is an instance:-“I was laid up in the Kalgoorlie Hospital for four months with typhoid,” says Mr. P. W. Hammond, contractor, Broad Arrow.
“I was so terribly weak that I was hardly fit for anything. I had entirely lost my appetite,and the food I forced down didn’t strengthen me.
“”The fever had seriously affected my heart. Palpitation was so acute that it was difficult to breath. Month after month I continued weak and sickly.
“”Then a pamphlet I got in Broad Arrow about Dr Williams’ Pink Pills, persuaded me that by building up the blood they went the right way about curing disease.
“”I tried them – and a few doses made a wonderful difference in me. Four boxes gave me back my health, and another box or two made me as strong as ever.” “
SOURCES: Kalgoorlie Miner Monday 26 March 1900 p 4, Saturday 24 March 1900 p 4
The West Australian Wednesday 22 October 1902 p 3
Western Australian Museum: Typhoid Fever, a Raging Epidemic, viewed at http://museum.wa.gov.au/explore/wa-goldfields/dangerous-life/typhoid-fever-raging-epidemic