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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/806

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

covery of the cause comes the question, How can this cause be controlled? How can its action be prevented? Here, as Koch says, men have begun at the wrong end of the problem. Since the beginning of medicine the doctors have been experimenting upon men to find a cure for consumption. The problem here is too complicated, and in consequence little has been learned. Experiment must begin, he says, with the bacillus itself. We must grow it first in pure cultures in test tubes, in all manner of different culture media and under all conditions of temperature and light, in order to ascertain under what conditions it grows best and under what conditions it can not grow. We must next subject it in the test tube to the influence of different chemical substances, and when some compound is discovered to Mil or hinder the growth of the bacillus in the culture, then the substance must be tried upon tuberculous animals to ascertain whether in their bodies as in the test tube it will act to kill the bacilli without injuring the animal. When a substance fatal to the bacillus and harmless to the animal is found, with all due allowance for differences between the animal and man, it may be tested on man.

This, in brief, is but one important line of research, and clearly it should be carried out thoroughly for every infectious disease. A single link in the chain of procedure requires absolutely to be welded by experiments upon living animals. With millions on millions of human beings and animals suffering and dying yearly for lack of this knowledge, no truly humane person can for a moment deny to an investigator the right to complete his work by introducing this link.

In view of the stupendous values involved it is clear that any amount necessary of animal or human sacrifice and suffering is wholly justified. Whether unnecessary suffering is inflicted is a question which only the highest experts can adequately decide. Prof. Bowditch[1] has so thoroughly discussed the subject of pain caused by vivisection that we would pass it by without mention, were it not for the fact that the public mind has been of late so much abused by misstatement and exaggeration on this head. Prof. Yeo's estimate, the most reliable we have, is that in every one hundred experiments seventy-five are "absolutely painless," twenty are as "painful as vaccination," four, as "painful as the healing of a wound," one, as "painful as a surgical operation." The pain of vaccination is altogether trifling, and that of the healing of a wound after antiseptic treatment is also practically nil. This leaves but one per cent of all experiments as painful to any serious degree. During over ten years' active experience in


  1. H. P. Bowditch. The Advancement of Medicine by Research. Science, July 24, 1896.