Dr. William Hanna thompson contributes a very interesting paper to a recent issue of Everybody’s Magazine on the much talked about work done by scientific medicine, as it is universally turned.
Laveran a French surgeon in Algiers, in the year 1880, “demonstrated that malarial fever is caused by an animalcule that ear up our red blood corpuscles.” How these animalcule get there remained unknown until it was further demonstrated “that there is no such thing as malaria in the sense of a bad air, but that the disease is due solely to a hypodermic injection, by a mosquito, of a dose of micro-organism. There are, therefore, no unhealthy places or climate, as such, but localities instead which medical science can make as salubrious as any, by disinfection.”
“The Pontine marshes in Italy had always been celebrated for malaria, and so some of the local insects there with handsome spots on their wings were caught by Italian savants and sent to a convent in the Appenines, whose inmates never had malaria. When the mosquitoes were let loose there upon some men, straightway the men had ague.” Likewise a lot of these mosquitocs were sent to London, where also they produced cases of malaria in those they bit. Then a commission of English doctors camped in those deadly arshes for a year, but keeping well screened front the mosquitoes, did not contract the malaria, Essentially the same experience was gone through with yellow fever which was similarly and seemingly proved to be caused by mosquito bites. All this leads Dr. Thompson to assert that “there is no miasm.” He also realizes that even this seemingly conclusive demonstration runs him up against a stone wall, “which, however, was the first to harbor these sickening things, is like the old question whether the egg preceded the hen or the hen the egg.”
As the matter now stands the mosquito sucks the animalcule from the body of some one down with malaria or yellow fever, and conveys it to another man, and so on, an endless chain.
All this does not by any means conclusively prove that mosquitoes are the cause of malaria and yellow fever, though it does prove that these insects may be the means of conveying them. There is also room for doubt that the animalcule said to be the real cause of malaria are the cause at all, even though they be always present in every case. (Are they?)
There are well authenticated cases where malaria has raged in mid-winter where extensive excavations have been made. There were no mosquitoes about, nor had been for weeks. It looked very much like an epidemic of malaria caused by the now rejected miasm. If the animalcule were also present in these cases then it seems that these are caused by the action of the miasm on the blood, doesn’t it?
There are great regions in the south where malaria was always more or less in evidence. Finally, with no thought of ridding the country of malaria, driven wells came into use for the sake of getting pure drinking water. Where this was used malaria disappeared, though there were as many mosquitoes present as ever. This seems to disprove the mosquito theory, and also that of miasm, and put the cause of the disease on the water used, this, or back of all these in an undiscovered cause. Science has been doing some good work in looking into some of the means by which disease may be conveyed, but the cause remains a closed door. Considering the fact that malaria is generally found in hot countries where vegetation is rank, or follows the upturingin of new soil, it looks as though the old idea that it is the result of decaying vegetation is about as good as any.
That mosquitoes can convey yellow fever has been demonstrated, but that they are the cause of the disease is open to very great doubt. During the late Civil War in the United States, after New Orlcans had been captured, it was found that yellow fever was very prevalent there. General Butler had the city thoroughly cleaned up and the fever disappeared. So the old notion that yellow fever comes from a combination of filth, crowding and hot weather, seems still as tenable as any other theory.
One of the real triumphs of modern medicine occurred at Bellevue Hospital, New York. A resolution was passed discontinuing all amputations at that hospital because they were always followed by death, while at the modern hospitals the operation was uniformly successful. When the wards were rebuilt it was found that operations could be performed at Bellevue as successfully as at any other hospital. The cause of this was known to the ancients, as Dr. Thompson points out, as in the book of Leviticus, where the plastering on the walls of a house occupied by a leper is ordered to be burned.
For years what is known as Malta, or Mediterranean, fever has been known, and thousands have suffered or died from its effects. In 1995 the British Government sent a commission to investigate the matter, and it was found that the cause was a bacterium found in the goat’s milk used there. Condensed milk was substituted in the British garrison and the fever at once ceased.
Similarly it was found that the so-called Texas fever afflicting cattle originated in a bacteria found in a certain district in Kansas. Some of these parasites were sent to various parts of the country and healthy cattle infected with them; Texas fever followed in every instance. When this district was avoided the fever ceased.
Very many other instances of the invaluable work accomplished in these directions might be cited, but they are mostly familiar to all. The money spent in forwarding this class of work is well spent, none better; as witness the marvelous things accomplished by the Japanese Medical Corps in the war between that country and Russia; it was a revelation to even the best medically equipped armies.
But while modern medicine has done so much in the prevention of disease, preventive medicine, what of curative medicine? Here assurance and certainty ceases and confusion and uncertainty reign. It can do much to prevent cholera, yellow fever and the like, but when cases do occur, which seems inevitable, it can do practically nothing but intelligently nurse and feed the Homeopathy has been as brilliantly successful in curing as modern twin and elder sister of what we call modern medicine. Ho-medicine has in preventing diseases of microbic origin, such as Asiatic cholera, yellow fever, malaria and others. The fact of the power of Homeopathy and of its existence is beginning to be acknowledged by the real thinkers in medicine in Germany and France, but the great rank and file stand hostile or indifferent. Yet the day will come, must come, when Homeopathy will take its place as the peer of preventive medicine, Men will not forever let prejudice debar them from a means by which they may be restored to health.
The exceedingly great power of the similimum over disease, great though acting so mildly, is one obstacle to the more universal acknowledgement of its truth. A man is “hopelessly” ill. The similimum promptly cures him. The man rubs his eyes and thinks the doctors who pronounced the case hopeless were mistaken. “Nothing much ailed me.” The doctors shrug their shoulders and say, “Mistaken diagnosis.”
In an age of enlightenment this cannot last forever.