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The International Hygiene Congress
THE congress consisted of nine sections and two subsections. The first section discussed the relationship of germs and parasites to disease, and considered such diseases as infantile paralysis and hook-worm disease, and other topics less familiar, though no less important, to the layman. The second section, Dietetic Hygiene and Hygienic Physiology, was devoted quite largely to physiology, and so far as a hygiene congress is concerned, most of the papers considered in the section were of only academic interest.
Another and important section was that devoted to the Hygiene of Infancy and Childhood, and School Hygiene, and under this was the subsection on Mental Hygiene, to which was devoted only one forenoon, though the general interest in the subject indicates that in future congresses it may be thought advisable to devote an entire section to this topic.
The fourth section, Hygiene of Occupations, or, as we sometimes call it, industrial hygiene, received attention commensurate with its importance.
The fifth section, on the Control of Infectious Diseases, while apparently over-lapping the work of section one, in reality dealt with the administrative features, the what-to-do and how-to-do-it, whereas the work of the first section was rather in the nature of a laboratory inquiry into bacteria, serums, vaccines, and the like.
The sixth section, State and Municipal Hygiene, as its name would indicate, had to do with the work of the health officers.
The seventh section related to the somewhat neglected but very important subject of the Hygiene of Traffic and Transportation. It dealt with the sanitation of cars, and the prevention of the transmission of infection by rail or water.
The eighth section, on Military, Naval, and Tropical Hygiene, was related to the problem of making inhabitable those parts of the earth which have in the past been familiarly known, because of their extreme unhealthfulness, ,as “the white man’s grave,” and of improving the sanitary conditions wherever our men may be sent. This section represented the work we have done and are now doing in Panama, in the Philippines, in Porto Rico, and the South, and what we have done in Cuba, to make all these countries more inhabitable.
Section nine had to do with vital statistics. In this section was considered the importance of adequate laws providing for the compulsory reporting of all births, deaths, etc., without which it is impossible to prepare adequate statistics, and to compile figures from which to study the effects en masse of various conditions of living. It is a matter not to be proud of that the United States is behind all other civilized nations in the matter of its vital statistics. In this respect, we stand on a level with Turkey and China. It is true that a certain proportion of States have adequate registration laws, and the statistics from this registration area are valuable as far as they go; but every State should have such laws.
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Vaccination Versus Smallpox
THIS nasty virus that the cowpox doctors put into our helpless children is a terrible thing, if we may believe the testimony of some well-meaning persons; but it is well enough once in a while to consider the other side. For some months there had been in Los Angeles, Cal., a mild epidemic of smallpox, similar to that existing in many other parts of the country; but recently the disease took a malignant form, the mortality reaching twenty-four per cent. One case in this epidemic, mentioned in Public Health Reports, August 3o, is significant. To quote : —
“In one family in Los Angeles the father and three children, none of whom had ever been vaccinated, were attacked. Three of these cases ended fatally. The mother, who was the only member of the family who had ever been vaccinated, was the only one who did not contract the disease. None of the other fatal cases in the city were in persons who had ever been successfully vaccinated.”
A few lessons may be drawn from this epidemic. First, we should not, on account of the present mildness of the disease, come to think that smallpox is a disease that we need no longer protect ourselves against. A disease which is capable of showing a mortality of from twenty-four to sixty-seven per cent is not entirely harmless. Second, it is sometimes very fortunate for a person that he has been “poisoned” with some of that “terrible and nasty virus,” the very mention of which is to some people what a red rag is to a mad bull. We showed in a recent issue the pictures of some children, protected by vaccination, who remained in contact with others not protected, who had contracted smallpox, the vaccinated ones escaping the disease, which ended fatally with some of the unvaccinated ones. Such incidents have a significance for people who think and who are not carried off their feet by epithets.
Extract from “The Medical Missionary at Work” by Mrs. Ella Camp Russell
A Day At the Soonan (Korea) Dispensary
… Then there came a woman with a cataract on each eye; a man who had cut off the end of his thumb; and a baby girl, three years old, suffering from tubercular hip. A young man looking very sick and weak came in, saying he had indigestion. Cong Pong Ho removed his jacket, that I might use the stethoscope. Placing the instrument over his heart, I noticed a bad rash over his chest, arms, and face.
“What is this?” I asked, thinking it might be itch.
“Indeed! when did it commence?”
“Well, you go out quickly, and stay in your house.”
The next few moments were spent in fumigating and vaccinating ourselves. During the day I saw twenty-six patients at the dispensary, and made three calls, returning from the last one by twilight.