Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/439

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425
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

do human beings. Mrs. Mary Treat, in the "American Naturalist," thus describes a contest which she witnessed between slave making ants and black ants: The former were the aggressors, and victorious. The two colonies were one hundred and twenty feet apart. An idea of the numbers constituting the ranks of the slave-makers may be gathered from the fact that on the warpath, one hundred and twenty feet in length and a foot wide, they "were not thinly scattered, but a vast moving phalanx." The blacks, a grand army on their own territory, would not flee. The battle-field was about twenty-five feet in circumference. A roar announcing the beginning of hostilities lasted for five minutes, "whereas the battle lasted four or five hours before the reds gained possession of the vast nurseries of the blacks," and it took two days to carry the pupae and prisoners to their own dominions.

 

Epidemics.—Sir Joseph Fayrer, in his address delivered before the Epidemiological Society of London, on the subject of epidemics, gives some interesting facts regarding typhoid fever and cholera in India. It is well known that typhoid fever is a prolific cause of mortality among European soldiers there, and questions of great practical importance arise in regard to the age, time, and seasons for sending men to the army in India. It appears from the statistics that this disease tells most severely upon the young men during their first year of service; and Dr. Fayrer raises the question as to whether this fever, so prevalent in India, is identical with the disease which might be contracted in London, New York, or Dublin, from water-closet, drain, sewer, or well. He is of the opinion that these fevers arc often the same, but that more frequently they are not, and that in hot, malarious countries climatic causes give rise to fevers identical with the others, except that they can not be traced to filth or other specific cause. But, while recognizing that but little is known of the nature of epidemics of this class, he asserts that the past twenty years show great progress in ability to successfully cope with them. He says, "Science that has enabled us to reduce the death-rate among our troops from 17·9 to 8·56 per 1,000 in Europe, and from 69 to 17·62 per 1,000 in India, speaks for itself, and, were there no other results, this alone is a triumph such as has not been achieved by other departments of knowledge." As a result of better sanitary conditions among European troops the following alteration in the death-rate is shown: from 1861 to 1865, 9·02 per 1,000; 1865 to 1870, 6·98; 1870 to 1875, 3·23; 1875 to 1876, 2·3; 1876 to 1877, ·84. In allusion to the history and treatment of cholera the doctor says: "All serves to show that it is the same now as formerly, and that, though we have gained much knowledge of its natural history of late years, yet we are as ignorant as our predecessors of its real nature. We have, thanks to sanitary measures, disarmed it of some of its terrors, and have diminished the mortality it caused; but as to treatment we have gained but little, though the empiricism of to-day is more scientific than it was in former days. We do not now burn our patients on the soles of the feet, tie ligatures round their limbs, or have recourse to other senseless barbarities; for we find that simpler and more rational methods are of greater avail, more or less according to the period of the epidemic attack, and the promptitude with which the remedies are applied. But we have learned that local causes have a potent influence, and that cleanliness, good air, pure water, and free ventilation, are all powerful opponents of cholera."

 

Danger of the Hypodermic Use of Morphia.—The danger of using morphia in hypodermic injections has been again forced into notice by the recent death of the Italian Consul at Bombay, India. His physician had prescribed two "grana" of morphia as a remedy for a pain in his leg from which he was suffering. The chemist mistook the word "grana" for "grammes" and gave fifteen times as much morphia as was intended. The mistake was discovered at once and remedies were applied, but the patient sank rapidly and died the same evening. The peculiar risks of the hypodermic use of morphia arise from the facts that an overdose once administered can not be recalled, and that no means exist of ascertaining how large a dose the patient can