Sewer Gas and Typhoid Fever

    Abstract

    IT is now more than thirty years ago since two eminent physicians discussed, with some heat, in the columns of the medical papers and elsewhere their theories on the origin and distribution of typhoid fever. While Dr. Murchison and his party regarded the exhalations from drains as the specific cause of typhoid, Dr. Budd and his supporters argued that the gases from putrid liquids were only capable of producing this disease in the presence of some particular contagion. The discussion was taken up on the continent, and the sewer-gas theory was vigorously fought over, but towards 1880 the whole subject was revived, and its supporters were later confronted with the results of bacteriological investigations on sewer-air, which showed that there were not more organisms present in drains than in the outside air, and that under normal conditions, currents of air were unable to detach disease microbes, should they be present, from the effete materials present in the sewer.

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