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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/90

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of ether spray, and, having thus kept the liquid frozen for several minutes, have injected it into the Guinea-pig and rabbit with fatal result. . . . I then placed a capillary tube filled with spores in a mixture of ice and salt, and kept it there for one hour exposed to a temperature of 12° to 15° Cent, below freezing-point; after thawing, the material was injected into the subcutaneous tissue of a Guinea-pig. This animal died of typical anthrax on the third day."

We are thus bound to accept the position that the morbific organisms, the introduction of which into the human system produces specific infectious diseases, are not destroyed by freezing, but, on the contrary, that ice collected from an infected water and supplied to households would act as a vehicle for the introduction of the poison of those diseases. In short, a wholesome ice can be derived only from a wholesome water.

I now pass to my last point. On the 9th of June, 1875, a party of sixteen persons sat down to dinner at a house in South Kensington, and later on in the evening about one hundred and fifty additional guests assembled with the family of the host and hostess in the drawing-room; the service of the house was also re-enforced for the evening by seven extra servants. Within five days eighteen of the assembled guests suffered from more or less well-marked attacks of scarlet fever; two others had "sore throats"; one of the waiters had scarlet fever; and a few days later a lady, not at the house on the 9th, but who lunched there the next day, was found to be suffering from a distinct attack of the disease. In all, twenty-two persons were attacked.

The circumstances of the outbreak were investigated by Dr. Buchanan, F. R. S., and his report on it is specially instructive as indicating the method in which such an inquiry should be conducted. It was ascertained that the scarlet fever could not have been communicated by any of the guests, by any member of the host's family, nor by any of the servants, nor indeed did the circumstances of the outbreak suggest infection from such a source. On the other hand, strong circumstantial evidence was forthcoming in favor of the infection having been communicated by means of some article of food or drink.

The dinner guests were the principal ones affected; several of the household who could not have touched any of the articles of food served up escaped altogether, and there was a marked incidence of the disease on those who had several opportunities of eating certain exceptional articles supplied on that day. Up to this point, however, no one article of food had come under suspicion.

Two special supplies of cream were delivered at the house on the day of the entertainment; one, which arrived at 4 p. m., was "double cream" from a London dairy, and was used for ice-puddings, custards, and "creams"; the other, arriving at 5 p. p., was from a Hampshire dairy, and was mainly used as cream. The latter supply was generally