Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/353

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339
SANITARY RELATIONS OF THE SOIL.

is exceedingly remote. It does not present itself in this light to the physician who has had to deal with it. I am reminded of what the chief staff physician, Dr. Port, has remarked, as if by intuition, on the etiology of abdominal typhus, with immediate reference to military hygiene, and its bearings on the construction of barracks and camps. He says: "If we consider the danger to which the inhabitants of a disease-bearing soil are exposed by leaving their houses without protection from the soil, I might say by putting them on the ground barefooted, and, if we reflect that our most imposing palaces labor under this partial nakedness, we must of necessity receive the impression that there is some lack in our civilization. We have in this respect not only not excelled the most primitive constructions of the childhood of the building art, but have fallen behind them in a very important matter. We have no reason, from the hygienic point of view, to look down disparagingly on the pile-dwellings of some foreign races and the mud huts which our peasants still live in here and there: both of these classes of people, although in very different ways, have respected, in building, a hygienic principle that has escaped our architects. They have made their dwelling-places independent of the ground, in the former case by putting under them a grating of piles admitting a circulation of air; in the latter case by isolating the hut by means of a plaster floor. The superiority of these primitive dwelling-houses over our modern buildings can not be made to appear more clearly by any other example than by the sketch which Dr. Hirsch has given of an outbreak of cholera on the estate of Herr von Winter, chief health-officer of Dantzic:

"Nine houses stood in a group in front of the manor-house of the estate, and were inhabited by the farm-servants; seven of them had been rebuilt in timber with brick fillings, and furnished with cellars, which were perfectly dry; their ground-floors were lined with deal, were dry, airy, and kept clean; the manure-heaps were arranged in the manner that is common in rural districts. Two of the houses in the group had not been rebuilt; they were old mud huts, with low stories, without cellars; the rooms were not boarded up, but only plastered; and their condition seemed on the whole much more unfavorable than that of the others, while the manner of living of their inhabitants in other respects was in no way different from that of their neighbors in the modern cottages. About one hundred and fifty persons lived in all the nine houses. A woman, suffering from an attack of cholera, was taken into one of the new houses; three days afterward the first cases of sickness appeared in the neighborhood of this house, and the disease quickly spread to all the houses except the two old huts. The inmates of these houses had the same intercourse with their fellow-dwellers on the premises as the latter with each other; yet, while seventeen persons (or fifteen per cent of the whole number) in the seven new houses were prostrated, not a case of sickness occurred in the old huts. The