Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/689

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THE PREVENTION OF HYDROPHOBIA.

contradictions such as invariably take place with every new discovery were found to occur, and especially for the reason that it is not every bite by a rabid animal which gives rise to a fatal out-burst of hydrophobia. Hence prejudiced people may pretend that all the successful cases of treatment were cases in which the natural contagion of the disease had not taken effect. This specious reasoning has gradually lost its force with the continually increasing number of persons treated. To-day, and speaking solely for the one anti-rabic laboratory of Paris, this total number exceeds 7,000, or exactly, up to the 31st of May, 1889, 6,950. Of these the total number of deaths was only seventy one. It is only by palpable and willful misrepresentation that a number differing from the above, and differing by more than double, has been published by those who are systematic enemies of the method. In short, the general mortality applicable to the whole of the operations is one per cent, and if we subtract from the total number of deaths those of persons in whom the symptoms of hydrophobia appeared a few days after the treatment—that is to say, cases in which hydrophobia had burst out (often owing to delay in arrival) before the curative process was completed—the general mortality is reduced to 0·68 per cent. But let us for the present only consider the facts relating to the English subjects whom we have treated in Paris. Up to May 31, 1889, their total number was two hundred and fourteen. Of these there have been five unsuccessful cases after completion of the treatment and two more during treatment, or a total mortality of 3·2 per cent, or more properly 2'3 per cent. But the method of treatment has been continually undergoing improvement, so that in 1888 and 1889, on a total of sixty-four English persons bitten by mad dogs and treated in Paris, not a single case has succumbed, although among these sixty-four there were ten individuals bitten on the head and fifty-four bitten on the limbs, often to a very serious extent. I have already said that the Lord Mayor in his invitation has treated the subject in a judicious manner, from the double point of view of prophylaxis after the bite and of the extinction of the disease by administrative measures. It is also my own profound conviction that a rigorous observance of simple police regulations would altogether stamp out hydrophobia in a country like the British Isles. Why am I so confident of this? Because, in spite of an old-fashioned and wide-spread prejudice, to which even science has sometimes given a mistaken countenance, rabies is never spontaneous. It is caused, without a single exception, by the bite of an animal affected with the malady. It is needless to say that in the beginning there must have been a first case of hydrophobia. This is certain; but to try to solve this problem is to raise uselessly the question of the origin of life itself. It is sufficient for me here, in