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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: State officials launch rules aimed at combatting sexually transmitted diseases

Washington state authorities were launching rules to combat sexually transmitted diseases, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Jan. 9, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Washington state authorities were launching rules to combat sexually transmitted diseases, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Jan. 9, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)

State authorities were launching “the most remarkable offensive against the vice infections which has ever been attempted in the West.”

By “vice infections,” they meant sexually transmitted diseases.

The new rules required all physicians and drugstores to notify state and local authorities of all cases of venereal disease. Those afflicted with the disease would then be “required to comply with standards of living and habits,” or be quarantined or interned.

Why was this offensive being launched at this time in Washington? Because of the tens of thousands of soldiers being trained at Camp Lewis, Fort George Wright and other state military bases. The army and the navy had demanded it.

The creation of a venereal ward in the “Spokane isolation hospital” was recommended. Seattle and Tacoma already had created such isolation wards.

From the coroner’s beat: A coroner’s jury ruled that Garden Springs farmer Peter Bayer’s death was a suicide and that he had placed strychnine in his own soup.

His son, James Bayer, was freed after being held for two days for questioning. The only real evidence against his son had been his father’s deathbed declaration that his son had poisoned the soup. However, the coroner’s jury did not find that credible.

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