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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/178

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174
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

istic of such diseases. I refer particularly to the disease known as "Mastitis," an inflammation of the udder accompanied by the presence of certain bacteria largely of the pus-forming type which are discharged with the milk in enormous numbers.

While possibly a smaller number of cows suffer from this disease than from tuberculosis (and herein probably lies the reason why this important source of infantile mortality has been overlooked), many cows not only suffer from repeated acute attacks in which far greater numbers of these bacteria are eliminated with the milk than tubercular germs in pulmonary tuberculosis or even tuberculosis of the udder, but not a few suffer from a more or less intractable, chronic type of this malady which renders them a never-failing fountain of mischief.

Probably the major portion of the grave intestinal disturbances of children are due directly or indirectly to the presence in milk of the bacteria characteristic of this disease and the ptomains, toxins and kindred substances which always accompany certain types of bacteria activity. And notably is this true of milk, for it is a most excellent example of what is known technically as a culture medium, meaning a substance favoring in a high degree bacteria development and growth. Some one says: "Yes, while this is all very bad we can protect ourselves by pasteurizing or sterilizing our milk." While either of these processes properly carried out will destroy the germs or for a few hours prevent their activity they can not destroy the ptomains or like highly organized poisons already present, and as dangerous to human life as they are crafty in eluding chemical analysis.

Pasteurization, then, the proper execution of which requires much skill and training, removes from contaminated milk but part of the danger while its palatability has been impaired and its nutritive properties somewhat altered, and we are obliged to drink the carcass of millions of bacteria still suspended in it. The tendency, moreover, of pasteurization is to put a premium upon dirt, which gains entrance to milk chiefly through careless methods in milking and caring for milk after it leaves the cow which carries with it a great multitude of bacteria and is the most important source of bacteria contamination of milk.

It has been computed that the people of the City of Berlin drink in one year many hundred pounds of cow-barn filth suspended in milk.

Milk so produced as to be free from dirt (unhappily not the milk of commerce) may be considered also comparatively free from bacterial growth.

Pure milk, fresh milk produced free from germ and dirt contamination in the stable and during handling and transportation, is the birthright of our children, is what we all desire and is the goal toward winch the various boards of health, cattle inspection bureaus and