Forty-five Freshmen were stricken just before Thanksgiving with a mysterious nausea followed by fever lasting 24 hours. Tuesday morning and all day Wednesday men reported to the Hygiene Office with symptoms so nearly identical that officials soon gave up the Yale game explanation, which they had at first adopted, and started an investigation of the food served at the Union on Monday.
Arlie V. Bock, Henry K. Oliver Professor of Hygiene, called in Wilson G. Smillie, professor of Public Health at the Medical School to tract down the source of the trouble. Professor Smillie is a noted authority on such forms of food poisoning and with several assistants went over the items on the Freshman menu which might have caused illness.
Suspicion finally centered on ice cream served Monday night. This was the only dish eaten by all those who became sick. Ice cream comes in units containing about 150 servings and, according to Dr. Bock, if the ice cream was slightly contaminated between a half and a third of those eating it would be expected to get sick. About one out of two people are immune to such forms of poisoning.
When it was discovered that several commuter students were included among those who were sick, the Union food was definitely assigned as the cause since Dudley Hall is supplied from the Union. But, since no ice cream had been saved from the batch served Monday night at the Union, and since University officials thought that it was unlikely that a single unit of ice cream would be divided between the Union and Dudley Hall, and since, also, they were uncertain that ice cream had been served at lunch at Dudley, suspicion was also cast upon the breaded veal cutlets served that day. At a late hour last night the official cause of the illness was thus a mystery and, since all the victims are now well and all the ice cream is gone, it is likely to remain so.