By Professor A. F. A. KING, M.D.
THE animalcular, or insect, origin of disease is not a new idea. It was suggested by Linnæus, by Kircher, and by Nyander, but gained little ground. It received a new impetus after the publications of Ehrenberg on the Infusoria. Later, it received attention in Bradley's work on "The Plague of Marseilles," in Dr. Drake's books on "Epidemic Cholera" and on "The Topography and Diseases of the Mississippi Valley," as well as in Sir Henry Holland's "Medical Notes," and other works.
More recently the researches of Dr. Patrick Manson in China, Dr. Bancroft in Australia, Dr. J. R. Lewis in India, and Dr. Sonsino in Egypt, have tended to show that the mosquito "acts as the intermediary host of Filaria sanguinis hominis" and is thus indirectly instrumental in the production of chyluria, elephantiasis, lymph-scrotum, etc. (London "Medical Times and Gazette," January 12, 1878, p. 69; September 7, 1878, p. 275; December 28, 1878, p. 731; and June 4, 1881, p. 615).
Still later, M. le Dr. Ch. Finlay has hypothetically considered the mosquito an agent of transmission of yellow fever ("El mosquito hipoteticamente considerado como agente de transmission de la fiebre amarilla," Havana, 1881; and "Pathogonia de la fiebre amarilla," 1882). These papers were communicated to l'Academie royale des sciences médicales, physiques et naturelles at the dates mentioned. A review of them, by Dr. A. Corre, appears in the "Archives de méd. Navale," tome xxxix, pp. 67-70, 1883, Paris. (See also "Lancet," 1878, i, p. 69.)
Viewed in the light of our modern "germ theory" of disease, the punctures of proboscidian insects, like those of Pasteur's needles, deserve consideration, as probable means by which bacteria and other germs may be inoculated into human bodies, so as to infect the blood and give rise to specific fevers. It has long ago been demonstrated that "malignant pustule" is produced in man by the bite of a fly ("British Medical Journal," January 24, 1863, p. 239). Dr. Budd, in the article just quoted, refers to the greater frequency of this disease in hot, dry summers where insect life is active and teeming; and this, he thinks, would go far to explain the greater frequency of the malignant pustule in Burgundy than in England and the north of France,
- Abstract of a paper on "The Prevention of Malarial Disease, illustrating, inter alia, the Conservative Function of Ague," read before the Philosophical Society of Washington, February 10, 1882. For another paper, on "The Conservative Design of Organic Disease," see this journal for June, 1875.