Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/413

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Fighting Infantile /Paralysis

��NF.W YORK CITY has liccn hghliiiy an epi- demic of infantile paralysis. More than two thousand five hundred have contracted the disease and six hundred have died. Health authorities of nation, state and city assisted by eminent specialists in chil- dren's diseases, including Dr. Simon Flexner, head of the Rockefeller Institute, and Dr. Noguchi, the Japanese special- ist, have joined forces in fighting the scourge, which, for the last twenty-five years, has baffled the medical pro- fession.

The disease has been con- fined largely to the New York district, although a score of other states have reported child victims. The pan played by the metropolis to keep down the death rate and to clean up everj^ possible spot that might breed germs of infection has been instruc- tive. Every department of the municipal government is co-operating with the Mayor, the Red Cross, the city's physicians, an army of nurses in addition, and federal auth(jrities. Health Com- missioner Emerson has called out New York's one thousand "home guards" — citizens trained under police direction for public dut\' in time of crisis— to join in the. crusade.

The motion-j)icture theaters have been barred against children, as have the public playgrounds and recreation piers. One of the large film companies has issued fifty prints of a special release on the subject which will be exhibited in all the theaters and on motor-trucks equip- ped with translucent screens. A lecturer from the New York Board of Health accompanies each of the trucks and lectures to parents as the film pictures are projected on the screen. .At first, when the plague was confined to New York City, the film company planned to give the illustratetl lectures only in local

���districts but this ]jlan has been altered and the prints are being sent all over, even to Melbourne, Australia, where the theaters have been (Kjsed because of the epidemic there too. As a precautionary* measure the New York City Health Department has its nurses making house-to-house can\'asses. Other acts of pre\ention are the nightly washing of streets in the infected districts, the exclu- sion of all household pets from sick rooms, careful screening from flies and insistence upon the utmost cleanliness.

It is the belief that the disease was introduced from Southern Italy by im- migrants fleeing from the war zone. The first cases reported in New York City were in an Italian section near the Brooklyn waterfront, where .the epidemic of 1907 first appeared. Then the mortality was ap- pro.ximately five per cent; the present rate is about twenty per cent. In 1907 the victims numbered two thousand five hundred.

What makes the situation the more serious is the fact that medical science does not know how the disease is carried. In scarcely one case out of eight hundred has it been po.ssible to trace the source of infection. .A few years ago it was announced that the stable fly transmit- ted the malady. But in Buffalo, during an epidemic, this theory was disproved when districts thick with flies were comparatively free from the disease.

Formerly extreme dr\'ness and heat were given as a cause. However, the Buffahj plague occurred during an un- usually wet summer. In an epidemic on the Pacific Coast it was discovered thai coincitlentally there was an outbreak oi lame colts. The two could not be connected, however. Deputy Surgeon W. C. Rucker of the I'nited States

��He Has Heard That His Safety Depends Upon Keeping His Surroundings Clean and He Looks as if He Means to Do It


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