Popular Science Monthly/Volume 3/August 1873/Correspondence
To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly:
NO doubt it is true that many persons have become ill, after being bitten by dogs, under a strong apprehension of hydrophobia. But, while scientific medical men ought to be, and mostly are, ready always to study "anew," that is, in view of all new facts, their oldest and most firmly-held opinions, yet some things have been clearly ascertained on this subject—not as matters of opinion, but as facts: First, that dogs (and, less often, some other animals) are subject to attacks of rabies, having a period of incubation, after being bitten, averaging, according to Youatt, five or six weeks. Also, every author of standing on the practice of medicine or surgery recognizes the fact that about one in ten of those human beings, of any and all ages, who are bitten by rabid dogs, will be, mostly within a month or six weeks, affected with symptoms entirely peculiar, ending in death in a few days, notwithstanding all the methods of treatment yet devised and used.
But the cases occurring in children are certainly the most convincing. Twenty years ago, I saw such a case, the whole history of which was known to me, in a boy eight years of age. My friend Dr. Lodge, of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, informs me that, a few years since, he had charge of the case of a child of five years of age, some account of which occurs in Gross's standard work on surgery.
The importance of a right popular apprehension of the truth on this subject is considerable. Not only is it necessary that every clearly rabid animal should be killed promptly, and every suspected one fastened up and watched in security, but also that due measures of prevention should be resorted to at once, when any one is bitten. These measures (generally known) are, either the removal of the part, when practicable, or thorough cauterization. Should the idea become common that there is no such disease as hydrophobia in the human subject, as appears to be intimated in the article in your interesting "Miscellany," in The Popular Science Monthly for June, all such precautions are likely to be neglected, at the imminent risk of many lives, which, by means of such measures (if they be resorted to immediately), can be protected from this truly terrible malady.
To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly:The perusal of the article with the above title, in the April number of your magazine, brings to my mind two or three paragraphs from "Pepys's Diary" bearing on that subject, which may be interesting to your readers. Under date of November 21,1667, we find: "With Creed to a Tavern, where Dean Wilkins and others: and good discourse; among the rest, of a man that is a little frantic (that hath been a kind of minister, Dr. Wilkins saying that he hath read for him in his church), that is poor and a debauched man, that the college have hired for 20s. to have some of the blood of a sheep let into his body; and it is to be done on Saturday next. They purpose to let in about twelve ounces; which, they compute, is what will be let in in a minute's time by a watch." November 30th, we have the sequel: "I was pleased to see the person who had his blood taken out. He speaks well, and did this day give the (Royal) Society a relation thereof in Latin, saying that he finds himself much better since, and as a new man; but he is cracked a little in his head, though he speaks very reasonably, and very well. He had but 20s. for his suffering it, and is to have the same again tried upon him; the first sound man that ever had it tried on him in England, and but one that we hear of in France." November 14, 1616, 1 find: "Dr. Croone told me that, at the meeting at Gresham College to-night, there was a pretty experiment of the blood of one dog let out (till he died) into the body of another on one side, while all his own run out on the other side. The first died upon the place, and the other very well, and likely to do well This did give occasion to many pretty wishes, as of the blood of a Quaker to be let into an archbishop [e. g., Laud?] and such like; but as Dr. Croone says, may, if it takes, be of mighty use to man's health, for the amending of bad blood by borrowing from a better body."
W. Woodbridge, M.D.