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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/62

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54
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

become quite common. Altliough it may be possible that in some instances the ill effects result from metallic poisoning, in a great majority of cases the poisonous substances are formed by putrefactive changes. In many cases it is probable that decomposition begins after the can has been opened by the consumer; in others the canning is imperfectly done, and putrefaction is far advanced before the food reaches the consumer. In still other instances the meat may have been taken from diseased animals, or it may have undergone putrefactive changes before the canning. It should always be remembered that canned meat is especially liable to putrefactive changes after the can has been opened, and when the contents of the open can are not consumed at once the remainder should be kept in a cold place or should be thrown away. People are especially careless on this point. While every one knows that fresh meat should be kept in a cold place during the summer, an open can of meat is often allowed to stand at summer temperature and its contents eaten hours after the can has been opened. This is not safe, and has caused several outbreaks of meat poisoning that have come under the observation of the writer.

Milk Poisoning.—In discussing this form of food poisoning we will exclude any consideration of the distribution of the specific infectious diseases through milk as the carrier of the infection, and will confine ourselves to that form of milk poisoning which is due to infection with nonspecific, poison-producing germs. Infants are highly susceptible to the action of the galactotoxicons (milk poisons). There can no longer be any doubt that these poisons are largely responsible for much of the infantile mortality which is alarmingly high in all parts of the world. It has been positively shown that the summer diarrhœa of infancy is due to milk poisoning. The diarrhœas prevalent among infants during the summer months are not due to a specific germ, but there are many bacteria that grow rapidly in milk and form poisons which induce vomiting and purging, and may cause death. These diseases occur almost exclusively among children artificially fed. It is true that there are differences in chemical composition between the milk of woman and that of the cow, but these variations in percentage of proteids, fats, and carbohydrates are of less importance than the infection of milk with harmful bacteria. The child that takes its food exclusively from the breast of a healthy mother obtains a food that is free from poisonous bacteria, while the bottle-fed child may take into its body with its food a great number and variety of germs, some of which may be quite deadly in their effects. The diarrhœas of infancy are practically confined to the hot months, because a high temperature is essential to the growth