In the book Little House on the Prairie, Laura writes in the chapter Fever ‘n’ Ague about the entire Ingalls family falling seriously ill. Today, fever ‘n’ ague is known as malaria, which is transmitted through mosquitoes.
In the chapter before they fall ill, Laura writes about berry picking and how severely they were all bitten. Pa was bitten so many times he couldn’t even play his fiddle, and Laura writes about her forehead being “speckled with mosquito bites”. Even though it was usually only Pa and Laura who went berry picking, so the family would have dried blackberries to stew during the winter months, the mosquitoes did go into their house during nights when the wind wasn’t blowing.
It is not known if Pa knew about the dangers of mosquitoes, aside from the bites. He did light smudge fires around the house in an attempt to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Ma refused to allow the girls to eat any watermelon because she claimed it caused their illness. Pa on the other hand said it came from breathing the night air. Laura, in an aside at the end of the chapter, reveals that it was actually now known to be malaria.
Laura also includes in the chapter about being treated by a “Dr. Tan”. This was actually Dr. George A. Tann, who treated both settlers and Native Indians in the area where the Charles Ingalls built his little house on the prairie. It was also Dr. Tann who delivered Baby Carrie when she was born.