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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/268

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258
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

active middle age are carried off by the same cause. Prior to Koch it had been placed beyond doubt that the disease was communicable; and the aim of the Berlin physician has been to determine the precise character of the contagium, which previous experiments on inoculation and inhalation had proved to be capable of indefinite transfer and reproduction. He subjected the diseased organs of a great number of men and animals to microscopic examination, and found, in all cases, the tubercles infested with a minute, rod-shaped parasite, which, by means of a special dye, he differentiated from the surrounding tissue. It was, he says, in the highest degree impressive to observe in the center of the tubercle-cell the minute organism which had created it. Transferring directly, by inoculation, the tuberculous matter from diseased animals to healthy ones, he in every instance reproduced the disease. To meet the objection that it was not the parasite itself, but some virus in which it was imbedded in the diseased organ, that was the real contagium, he cultivated his bacilli artificially, for long periods of time, and through many successive generations. With a speck of matter, for example, from a tuberculous human lung, he infected a substance prepared, after much trial by himself, with the view of affording nutriment to the parasite. Here he permitted it to grow and multiply. From this new generation he took a minute sample and infected therewith fresh nutritive matter, thus producing another brood. Generation after generation of bacilli were developed in this way without the intervention of disease. At the end of the process, which sometimes embraced successive cultivations extending over half a year, the purified bacilli were introduced into the circulation of healthy animals of various kinds. In every case inoculation was followed by the reproduction and spread of the parasite, and the generation of the original disease.

Permit me to give a further, though still brief and sketchy, account of Koch's experiments. Of six Guinea-pigs, all in good health, four were inoculated with bacilli derived originally from a human lung, which, in fifty-four days, had produced five successive generations. Two of the six animals were not infected. In every one of the infected cases, the Guinea-pig sickened and lost flesh. After thirty-two days one of them died, and after thirty-five days the remaining five were killed and examined. In the Guinea-pig that died, and in the three remaining infected ones, strongly pronounced tubercular disease had set in. Spleen, liver, and lungs were found filled with tubercles; while in the two uninfected animals no trace of the disease was observed. In a second experiment, six out of eight Guinea-pigs were inoculated with cultivated bacilli, derived originally from the tuberculous lung of a monkey, bred and rebred for ninety-five days, until eight generations had been produced. Every one of these animals was attacked, while the two uninfected Guinea-pigs remained perfectly healthy. Similar experiments were made with cats, rabbits, rats, mice, and other