Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/210

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magna. Before any conclusions can be formulated, the after-effects of the remedy must be studied, he says, for some months running, possibly a year or more. Will "606" permanently abort or check an attack of syphilis, or will it, like a drastic silver nitrate treatment in gonorrhœa, cause some of the pathogenic organisms to burrow into the deep tissues, only to crop out as an embarrassing recrudescence later on? Will it have any effect upon the posterity of syphilitics or upon those strange parasyphilitic affections, locomotor ataxia and general paralysis? Will it produce a generation of paretics and ataxics as some think mercury does? These and similar questions that suggest themselves can only be resolved by a study of the treated cases over long periods of time. The fact that suckling infants are cured after their mothers have received the injection would argue, Ehrlich thinks, that something like antibodies are formed in the maternal milk, indicating that "606" acts like a true antitoxin. This would seem to be borne out by the disappearance of the Wassermann serodiagnostic reaction shortly after the injection is given. I am informed by Captain Charles F. Craig, of the Army Medical Department, that in 33 United States soldiers recently treated with "606" (medium doses of 0.6 gram), the syphilitic lesions and the Wassermann reaction disappeared in 28 cases during periods of time ranging from five days to about two months, the men being returned to duty as cured.[1] Statistical results like these are now mounting up by the hundreds in the medical journals of the world, and if the effects of the drug are permanent it is probable that syphilis will become, in due course, a rare disease in civilized communities. There are some who have still enough of "odium theologicum" in their composition to think this disease a sort of divine punishment for the social evil, and that its suppression would imply an inevitable increase in immorality. But morality and immorality are too much the resultant of a conflict between innate disposition and social or ethical forces to be appreciably influenced by discoveries in therapeutics. These bigoted souls may take comfort in the fact that "606" is a simple chemical remedy, acting like quinine in malarial fever. It protects the innocent—the wives and children of the infected man—but, if it spares the sinner for the present, it holds out no alluring prospects for vicious indulgence in the future. "606" does not confer immunity from subsequent infection.

The scientific career of the remarkable man to whom medicine owes 80 much and who himself owes so little to university training is a striking example of the self-reliance and autodidactic tendencies that

  1. In the circular of instructions for the administration of "606" issued by the Surgeon General of the U. S. Army (December 13, 1910), it is directed that for present routine work among soldiers the medium dose of 0.4-0.6 gm. should be given. This may probably be increased to 1 gm. later on, when the aftereffects of the remedy are ascertained.