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Women's Health


40th anniversary of Aberdeen epidemic
May 20, 2004

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the worst epidemic to hit Aberdeen in living memory. Hundreds were struck down when the potentially fatal typhoid bug swept across the city.

Aberdeen in the summer of 1964 was a city under siege. Forty years ago today the first three cases of typhoid were diagnosed in what would become the city's worst health crisis for centuries.

The number of people affected would soon spiral to epidemic proportions and Aberdeen was effectively quaratined. The disease had been imported from Argentina and was traced back to a single can of corned beef sold from a shop.

The outbreak was making front page news around the world. Sheena Blackhall was a promising young artist when she was struck down by the bug. Aileen Pettits son Craig was among the first to be hospitalised, he'd eaten meat which had come from the same shop.

By the end of the outbreak there had been 469 confirmed cases of typhoid in Aberdeen. Although there were no confirmed fatalities, the events of the summer of '64 are now etched on the local consciousness.