Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/64

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
60
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

"child pox." Rotch reports that during fifteen years no deaths from smallpox occurred in Boston in children who had been vaccinated under five years of age, while during the same time the mortality in the unvaccinated was 75 per cent. Similar conditions have been noted in other centers. It is hard to realize what overwhelming calamities were once caused by this fearful disease. Smallpox has now been practically stamped out in civilized countries by vaccination, yet it has been estimated that 60,000,000 died from this loathsome affection in Europe during the eighteenth century, and multitudes who did not die were permanently scarred and mutilated. The reign of destruction and death accompanying this disease continued until Jenner’s great discovery in 1796. In Germany, where a compulsory vaccination and re-vaccination law has been enforced, there has not been an epidemic of small-pox for thirty-five years, although adjacent countries, not so protected, have had numbers of epidemics.

In the present discussion, it is interesting to note that a lower death rate from small-pox has been largely confined to children as they are so generally vaccinated. After the first decade, the protection is apt to wane and revaccination is required for full safety. The last objection to vaccination—the possible induction of other diseases—has now been completely removed by experiments on calves which shows that smallpox virus may be converted into a protective but innocuous vaccine virus by being transmitted through several bovine generations. Calf vaccination thus provides an adequate amount of virus that is safe because produced under careful scientific oversight of an animal fully protected from any disease or outside contamination.

While in the above-mentioned diseases the preponderating benefits in treatment have accrued to children, there are others in which the child shares with the adult in the advances derived from animal experimentation.

 

Malaria

Malaria, to which children are very susceptible, has been made largely a preventable disease by a study of the mosquito carrier, its breeding places and natural history, and by inoculation experiments on animals and man. It was proven by Italian observers that the mosquito disseminates bird malaria in the same manner as in the human subject. The final upshot of these investigations has been that large tracts of hitherto waste and dangerous land have been rendered safe and productive. A widespread cause of debilitating sickness, and even of death, has thus been removed. In such areas, the saddest sight has been the stunted, anemic children, with enlarged livers and spleens, the evidences of chronic malarial poisoning that can now be obviated by putting modern knowledge into effect.