Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 100, pages 268272 (06 December 1917) | Download Citation



A VERY remarkable statement was made to the Paris Academy of Sciences on October 1 by Prof. H. Vincent, who is director of the great Army Laboratory at Val-de-Grace, one of the most beneficent institutions of France. He was responsible, in the early months of 1915 and afterwards, for the arrangements in the French Army for the protective treatment against typhoid. He gives the results in a short note with a graphic diagram. He contrasts the terrible havoc wrought in previous wars with the almost negligible death-rate from typhoid in the present war. A heavy incidence of typhoid began in November, 1914; it became much less during March-April, 1915. During this period, November, 1914-April, 1915, the protective treatment could not be effectively carried out at the front, because of the necessities of the war. From April, 1915, onward-except for one very small rise in the summer of 1915, due mostly to paratyphoid fever—the death-rate has been kept almost at nil. The line runs steadily along the bottom of the diagram, as one loves to see it. From August, 1915, onward the French Army has received protective treatment, not only against typhoid fever, but also against those two forms of paratyphoid fever which at present are called paratyphoid A and paratyphoid B. The results are magnificent. As Prof. Vincent says:—“For more than two years the French Army at the front has enjoyed a very remarkable state of sanitation; typhoid and the paratyphoid fevers no longer show themselves, save at a very low degree of frequency. And this, though all the conditions at the front are united to favour the outbreak, spread, and gravity of these diseases. Immense masses of men crowded at close quarters, in such number as one has never seen the like of in any war; incessant renewal of effectives; a long war, and almost ceaseless engagements; near contact of troops, and constant risk of infection from man to man, from patients or from germ-carriers; formidable and continuous contamination of the surface soil by the excreta of germ-carriers; breeding of flies, etc.” Yet, in spite of it all, “these diseases may be considered as practically conquered.” It is strange to think that one of our “anti-vivisection” societies has been trying to prevent the protection of our own men. Happily, it has failed; the latest returns show that 0.8 per cent, of them are protected.

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