Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2039

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
1833
INFECTIOUS AND CONTAGIOUS DISEASES

fever, and the rest, although exposed to the microbes of the disease, will escape without being infected: at other times, all the members of a household, except those protected by a previous attack, will take the malady in spite of the ordinary precautions to seclude the affected child from its brothers or sisters. This is, no doubt, due to some constitutional peculiarity.

The contagion of small-pox is probably the most virulent of any that we have ordinarily to deal with, and, but for the discovery of vaccination by Jenner, would, perhaps, have continued to prevail as a terrible scourge of our race. People of the present day, who complain of the temporary inconvenience and the dangers of vaccination, can only do so through ignorance of the horrible suffering, painful deformity, and appalling mortality which attended small-pox in pre-vaccination days. The method, then, to avoid the contagion of small-pox is to be vaccinated and re-vaccinated with fresh vaccine matter, direct from healthy calves, in order to avoid any possible danger from this virulent poison.

The contagion of small-pox is extremely active, spreading readily through a house, and often to neighbouring dwellings. It may be conveyed by the breath of a person affected with it before any eruption appears, and has been caught from a dead body, 12 days after decease. It may be transmitted for long distances in clothing, bedding, letters, etc., unless great care is taken to thoroughly ventilate and disinfect them. As it is often propagated by unscrupulous persons when travelling whilst sick with mild forms of small-pox, or varioloid, we would advise every one to examine carefully, at the first opportunity, a vaccine pock upon a child's arm, 5 or 7 days after a successful vaccination, and then studiously avoid proximity to any strangers having similar eruptions upon their skin. Stringent laws are properly enforced against persons who endanger the public health by running the risk of disseminating the poison of small-pox or other infectious disease.

Unfortunately, such safeguards as vaccination against other contagious diseases, such as scarlet fever, measles, etc., are not in general use, and precautions against entering the sphere of their influence become doubly important, especially during epidemics, or at times when our systems are enfeebled in any way by other maladies or unfavourable conditions.

Diseases among School Children.—These diseases are very apt to be propagated among school children by the return of scholars recovering from measles or diphtheria, for example, before the poison has entirely passed from their bodies, and without proper purification of their clothing—a pernicious practice which has been legislated against, but which can only be fully abolished by the action of enlightened public opinion in regard to the injustice and criminality of such acts.

At the end of the section dealing with diseases of children (p. 1924)