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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/443

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425
FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

use of ibis knowledge in devising new methods or modifying old ones for the prevention of communicable disease, and the extension of it from person to person. In many maladies the secretions of the mouth become highly infected, and are a source of the most immediate danger to any one coming in contact with them. Dr. E. A. Wallace, in writing on this subject, says: "At a recent meeting of the Monroe County Medical Society, in New York, an epidemic of diphtheria was reported by one of the health officers. This epidemic was confined to a single school district, twenty-four families being afflicted. The contagion was traced back to the drinking cup used in school by the diphtheritic children. Microscopic examination revealed the diphtheritic microbes adhering in great quantities to its rim." Dr. Alfred Ashmead says: "The last time I knelt at the communion altar there knelt at one side of me a patient whom I knew (as I was treating him at the time) to be suffering from an odious disease: his mouth contained patches which made it especially contagious. This person took the cup before it came to me; of course I let it pass." (But what of the communicants beyond the doctor who did not know!) In fact, there can be no reasonable doubt that many cases of infectious disease have been and are still caused by the communion cup, and when one considers what some of them are, how horrible the contraction of such a disease is by any one, and how especially pitiful in the case of a young girl, it is hard to be patient with the stupid superstition which upholds the continuance of such a custom. There are so many paths by which infection may reach us, and over which we have, as yet, no control, that the few cases in which we have some power should be made the most of.

 

Short Method for Producing Antitoxine.—An interesting paper, by Dr. G. E. Cartwright, was recently read before the Royal Society on A Method for Rapidly Producing Diphtheria Antitoxines. Two species of diphtheria toxine were made use of—the ordinary toxine produced by the organism in peptone broth, and secondly the substances present in serum-broth cultivations which had been filtered and heated up to 65° C. As a rule, the broth was inoculated with a virulent diphtheria culture some three or four days previous to the addition of the serum, and then incubated at a temperature of. 37° C. for at least three or four weeks. Before being used for injection it was subjected to a temperature of 65° C. for about an hour, and then filtered through a sterilized Chamberland candle to remove the bodies of the bacilli. This fluid the author calls "serum" toxine, in contradistinction to the ordinary poison, "broth" toxine. The serum toxine gives rise to little local irritation, but to marked febrile reaction. In addition it was found that animals which had been subjected to its action were rendered more or less refractory to subsequent infection, and this suggested the possibility of its application as a means of shortening the preliminary treatment which a horse must undergo before it can receive the large doses of broth toxine which are usually necessary for the production of antitoxine of any strength. A horse was treated as follows: He received during the first twelve days three hundred and eighty cubic centimetres of serum toxine spread over three injections on different dates. On the nineteenth day fifty cubic centimetres of unfiltered serum toxine (sterilized at 65° C.) and one hundred and fifty cubic centimetres of broth toxine (of which half a cubic centimetre killed a five-hundred-gramme guinea-pig in forty-eight hours) were injected. The experiment was somewhat impeded at this point by the formation of a small abscess, which was subsequently avoided by filtering out the bodies of the bacilli. On the twenty-eighth day fifty cubic centimetres of the same broth toxine were injected, and on the thirtieth day another injection of one hundred and fifteen cubic centimetres was given. The horse was bled on the thirty-second day of treatment, and the serum was found to possess the strength of ten normal units (one one-hundredth cubic centimetre protected a two-hundred-and-fifty gramme guinea-pig against ten lethal doses of broth toxine). "As this strength is only attained by Roux's method after at least ten weeks' treatment, it was evident that the serum treatment had considerably shortened the process." The horse was then subjected to the ordinary method for producing antitoxine, when it reacted in every respect like an animal which had been under the usual treat-