Editorial | Published:

Oysters and Typhoid


    THE statements that have recently appeared, both in the general and in the medical press, concerning the communication of typhoid fever through the agency of oysters when eaten raw, make it desirable to review some of the data on which the suspicion in question is based. For many years past it has been a matter of assumption, when typhoid fever has followed, within some ten to fifteen days, on the consumption of raw oysters, and when no obvious cause for the disease could be detected, that the oysters stood to the fever in the relation of cause; and this attitude received no inconsiderable impe?us when, a few years ago, a member of our Royal family sickened of typhoid fever under circumstances that were suggestive of oysters as the vehicle of the disease. Then again, it must be admitted that it has been a matter of no very uncommon experience amongst medical men to have to treat typhoid fever in patients who, at an antecedent date corresponding with the incubation period of typhoid fever, had indulged in an oyster supper after leaving some place of entertainment. And the suspicion has been confirmed, in some cases, when it has been ascertained that another member of the same party, having nothing but the oyster supper, in common with the sufferer referred to, has also had typhoid fever about the same date, or had suffered from vomiting and other symptoms the day after the consumption of the oysters. The assumption in cases of this latter class has been, that the specific poison of typhoid fever was, with other matter that had become objectionable to the system, got rid of by the attack of sickness. A case generally illustrative of this class of occurrence was rejently recorded in the British Medical Journal. Four friends had an oyster supper on November 5. Two of them lived not far apart, but the others had nothing in common as regards residence or anything else. On November 23 three of them sickened, and they were, later on, all found to have typhoid fever. One of the patients, during convalescence, disclosed both his profession and his views by re-naming his malady “bivalvular disease.”

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