Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/42

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cases. Investigating, on the evening of June 19th I learned from the hospital physicians that a noticeable number of patients were applying daily for treatment for very red and extensive swellings, usually on the lips, and apparently the result of an insect bite. This led to the writing of the story attached.

 "Very truly yours,
"James F. McElhone." 
 

It would be an interesting computation for one to figure out the amount of newspaper space which was filled in the succeeding two months by items and articles about the "kissing bug." Other Washington

newspapers took the matter up. The New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore papers soon followed suit. The epidemic spread east to Boston and west to California.

PSM V56 D0042 Washington post article.png

By "epidemic" is meant the newspaper epidemic, for every insect bite where the biter was not at once recognized was attributed to the popular and somewhat mysterious creature which had been given such an attractive name, and there can be no doubt that some mosquito, flea, and bedbug bites which had by accident resulted in a greater than the usual severity were attributed to the prevailing oscillatory insect. Ill Washington professional beggars seized the opportunity, and went around from door to door with bandaged faces and hands, complaining that they were poor men and had been thrown out of work by the results of "kissing-bug" stings! One beggar came to the writer's door and offered, in support of his plea, a card supposed to be signed by the head surgeon of the Emergency Hospital. In a small town in central New York a man arrested on the charge of swindling entered the plea that