Autumn Sanitation


    IT is not only the steady decline of cholera in Egypt that gives substantial assurance that we shall now escape any epidemic in this country, but it is also the advancing season. There are, however, few subjects concerning which less is known than the influence of climate and season on the progress of the infectious diseases. But, as regards cholera, we know from experience that it is not very likely to make its appearance in this country when once the colder weather has set in. It has generally first shown itself with us during the hot summer months, and it is probable that a foul, damp air, together with a certain degree of warmth, are most favourable to its prevalence. It is not that we have never suffered from it during the colder months, for it was somewhat widely prevalent in October and November of 1853, the year which preceded the great epidemic of 1854, when so many cities, both in the Old and New World, were devastated. And even though actual winter has, even on such an occasion as that referred to, for a time completely checked the further progress of cholera, yet there is no reason to believe that any cold which the human frame can bear has the power of destroying the infection. At Moscow and at Orenburg in 1830 cholera prevailed in spite of a temperature of -4° F. And judging from analogy it would appear that much lower degrees of temperature than these fail to destroy infections such as that of cholera. Thus, tubes containing the characteristic spores of the bacillus anthracis have been exposed to a temperature of -32° F.; and yet on being thawed they have remained potent for harm as before. Indeed, we may infer that, provided other conditions necessary for the life of the contagion are present, warmth is not essential, and that no amount of cold is absolutely incompatible with the development either of the cholera poison or of the infection of many other contagia. Still, cholera has been with us essentially a summer epidemic, and as each week of the present month passes away without its being imported into the country we may feel more and more assured that we have succeeded in escaping the danger of an outbreak.

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    Autumn Sanitation . Nature 28, 458–459 (1883).

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