Printed in “Current Comment”
Is Vaccination Beneficial?
A SINGLE statement is sufficient to prove to the unprejudiced mind the value of vaccination as a preventive of smallpox. Germany, which, since 1874, has had not only compulsory vaccination at the end of the first year of life, but also compulsory vaccination at the age of twelve, since that year has suffered not a single epidemic of smallpox. From 1893 to 1897 there were in the whole German empire only 287 deaths from smallpox. During the same period there died from this disease in the Russian empire 275,502 persons; in Spain, 23,000; in Hungary, 12,000; in Austria and Italy, 11,000. In Philadelphia alone, from 1901 to 1905, 5,000 persons had the disease, and 500 died. There was no death of persons who had been successfully vaccinated within ten years.
The stamping out of smallpox, therefore, requires not only vaccination soon after birth, but revaccination at least once, and better twice, at intervals of ten or twelve years. A single vaccination can not be expected to protect an individual indefinitely. In fact, experience shows that it does not.— Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.
Printed in “Editorial”
Typhoid Carriers in the British Army
A REPORT recently issued by the director-general of the British Army Medical Service has to do with the case of seven typhoid convalescents from India who were “carriers,” that is, they were still capable of transmitting typhoid-fever germs to others. They were admitted to the Millbank Hospital, where they were subjected to various lines of treatment, and were placed under observation. Some of them were given cultures of lactic-acid bacillus. These seemed to cause the disappearance of the typhoid germs in one case, but not in another. Three cases were treated with antitoxic vaccine; two cases with sodium benzoate and acid sodium phosphate. The results from the treatment were not very brilliant.
The board recommends, ” since arrangements are being made for the treatment and discovery of these cases, that it is desirable that any man ascertained to be a ‘carrier ‘ should, after a period of observation in England, not exceeding three months, be discharged from the service, unless he elects to remain in the hospital for treatment.” The army council approved the recommendation.
The Lancet, commenting on this report, makes the suggestion that such a procedure, while good for the health of the army, would work ill in two ways: the discharged men might, in the spirit of resentment, do considerable in the way of preventing the enlistment of new recruits; and the man who might be under comparative observation and control in the army, if discharged, is free of all control, and becomes a serious menace to non-medical people. The Lancet questions whether it would not be better for the army to retain these “carriers ” and keep them under as good observation as possible, for certainly they can not do any more harm under army discipline than they could under no discipline whatever.
This favors the opinion which is forcing itself upon many, that much of the unexplained typhoid fever is probably due to ” carriers ” who may work in bakeries, groceries, and other places, and unknowingly infect the food which they handle. It is known for a fact that bakers and cooks have in this way transmitted typhoid fever in a good many cases.