Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/500

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by keeping the patient in a half-sitting posture, and cooling his temples from time to time with a wet towel, or, in extreme cases, with the above-mentioned ice-pack.[1] After a profuse perspiration the pulse will gradually become normal, and the feverish brain pass into a sort of twilight state between slumber and more or less fantastic daydreams, but without obstreperous symptoms and without oppressive headaches.

All this, however, on condition that the bark of Cinchona calisaya is left severely alone. I have seen quinine-drunk patients break away from their nurses and rush out into the street like Indian amuck-runners, or sit moaning on their beds, freed from the febrile diathesis, but afflicted with ear-aches that pierce the head like twinges of neuralgia, and often impair the hearing for months together. Quinine sticks to the system like mercury, and I doubt if there is such a thing as perfect recovery from the effects of its protracted use. Strychnine, bitter-orange peel, Valeriana, arsenic, and snake-root, are equally objectionable, and often produce after-effects that are ascribed to other causes, or to a lingering nervousness induced by the fever itself. Besides, the removal of the cause is the only radical fever-cure; chemical antiseptics merely palliate the symptoms, as a cloth mantle would smother a fire, till it gets strong enough to break out through cloth and all. Frost kills out flies where arsenic fails. By the refrigeration cure the zymotic disease-germs are, as it were, frozen out: the blood heat of the system is reduced below the temperature which is a condition of their development. The quinine-treatment is an attempt to poison them. For a time that attempt may prove successful, but the patient becomes a slave to his drug, and, till frost sets in, one of the most nauseous of all medicines has to be applied from week to week, and generally in increasing doses. But, if the febrile diathesis has been subdued by a refrigerating diet, the most ordinary precautions suffice to keep the disease in abeyance. The cause has been removed. I will venture the prediction that the zymotic agency of climatic fevers, as of tuberculosis, will be traced to the development of a living organism, and I suspect that Nature's effort to eliminate the tainted humors constitutes the critical symptoms of the affection, while the periodicity of the disease is due to the periodical redevelopment of the parasites from their ova or vital rudiments. In the vomit of cruor that precedes the crisis of yellow fever, the system seems to make an attempt to eradicate the evil by a direct extrusion of the tainted particles of the blood (the fibrine and red corpuscles), at the risk of exhausting the vital pabulum by the impoverishment of the humors. The success of that heroic remedy ends the trouble: yellow fever

  1. Six parts of sulphate of soda and four parts of hydrochloric acid make an effective freezing mixture. The first piece of ice thus obtained can be used with common salt to continue the freezing process, and, mixed in a tin cup, will reduce the temperature of water in a smaller cup, immersed in the mixture, by as much as thirty degrees.