Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/361

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345
DISINFECTION AT QUARANTINE.

gain access to other parts of the country, carrying with them whatever of good or ill they may bring. Their baggage and clothing, if from infected ports, can carry the seeds of disease and afford favorable conditions for the reproduction of germ life.

The port of New York, with its magnificent harbor and immense marine commerce, is one of the centers that requires intense, concentrated vigilance to protect the city itself and the country at large. One of its great dangers is that of disease brought by incoming vessels.

The health officer of the port of New York has charge of the

PSM V50 D361 Hot and cold water supply cocks.jpg
Hot and Cold Water Supply Cocks.

health of all of those on incoming vessels. The headquarters of the boarding station is situated at the Narrows, on the Staten Island shore. Side by side are the grim fort and the health officer's headquarters — the one an arm of the nation, the other a department of the State; both there to guard and protect the safety of the country. Detention at quarantine has been a precautionary measure, the disinfecting process slow and laborious.

Disinfection is the destruction of germ life. The penetrative quality of the means is a most important factor. Access to the seeds of disease, destruction of germ life, and the removal of conditions favorable to the reproduction of germ life are necessary to effect thorough disinfection. The destruction of the germ to be effected without the destruction of property or unnecessary inconvenience or delay is the problem.

The means in use consists of a steam disinfecting chamber (two hundred and thirty degrees of heat is destructive to germ life); bichloride of mercury used in solution of 1 to 1,000 or 1 to 1,200; sulphur fumes, which last have but little penetrative quality; and sea-water and salt-water soap for bathing purposes, to be used when necessary. It has been found expedient to combine these means and construct apparatus to enable the process of disinfection to be carried out rapidly and thoroughly.

The floating disinfecting plant system now contains all that is needed to effect a thorough and complete disinfection. The people detained are submitted to a rapid and efficacious process of cleansing and disinfection, their clothing being treated simul-