Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/779

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

twenty days on sixteen ships; therefore these cases could not have originated at Calcutta, but must have been derived from infective material on board ship. If cholera is acquired from the infective material on board ship, how is it that the infective matter is, as a rule, so ineffective, and acts only exceptionally? If cholera lasts more than twenty days on board ship, then there must be other causes than those which prevail on land. Let it be assumed that the infective material proceeding: from human beings can call forth the disease after the third day and up to the twentieth day. Now, cases of cholera have occurred on board ship as long as forty days after leaving port, of which fact I could give many examples. But these are very exceptional. May it not be assumed that in such cases the infective material might be brought on board and kept effective in some form or other, and that individuals might constantly come in contact with the infecting agent? For exceptional circumstances exceptional causes must be assumed. Properly considered, it will be found that cholera behaves on ships pretty much the same as ague does. When ships leave a malarious district, cases of ague occur on board, but when farther out at sea they cease to occur. As a rule, the illnesses happen only in those individuals who come from shore, though exceptionally the disease shows itself in individuals who have never been ashore. But epidemics of ague have occurred on ships, as Hirsch has recorded in his work on "Malariakrankheiten," where the infection of the crew on shore appears to have been quite impossible, as on a ship which went from an Eastern seaport to England, and yet no one has ventured to say that ague is not dependent on the soil, or that it spreads on ships by contagion from man to man where the people have not been infected on land. The sweat of the sufferers from ague may be likened unto the stools of cholera-patients. If the infectious disease, ague, were as dangerous as cholera, it is not unlikely that many more observations on contagion from cases of fever, and on the presence of ague on ships, would have been made and recorded. Any exceptional occurrence in the way of ague on ships would almost certainly be more likely to be recorded if they happened on men-of-war or emigrant-ships than if they occurred on merchant-men, on the ground that the rare event is witnessed by a large number of men, and because the state of health of men-of-war and emigrant-ships is more carefully registered than is the case with smaller vessels.



LAST year was not extraordinary in its fire record. It bore no such calamity in its course as 1871 or 1873, when the nation was called to mourn for Chicago or Boston. Yet there is good reason to believe that during 1884 fires cost the United States $160,000,000. This enor-