Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/111

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101
BAD AIR AND BAD HEALTH.

the school-rooms there were only sixty-eight cubic feet or less per head. The fatality of the cholera attack thus carefully prepared for—was awful. Within forty-eight hours after the first attack, nineteen deaths and forty-two seizures had taken place. In the course of a week sixty, or twenty-two per cent of the whole number, died, almost all the others suffering badly. Fewer boys died as compared with girls, because, as it was stated, having even less air than the girls, they used to break the windows. In the jail of the same town, where each prisoner had over 800, and in some cases over 900 cubic feet, and where a system of ventilation kept renewing the air, there was not "the slightest indication of the epidemic influence." In August, 1849, the cholera raged severely in London, the mortality having increased from nearly 1 per 1,000 in June and July to 4½ in August and September. It happened that at this moment a large number of male prisoners were transferred from Millbank Prison—which was in one of the bad districts—to another part of the country, the numbers being thus reduced from over 1,000 to close upon 400; while at the same time the female prisoners were slightly increased in number in Millbank Prison, from 120 to 131. The consequences were remarkable. The mortality of the female prisoners went up from a little over eight to a little over fifty-four per cent (which was considerably above the rate of increase in the outside districts), while the mortality of the men fell from slightly over 23 per 1,000 to nearly 10 (the June and July rate of mortality). Carpenter gives other interesting examples, and also remarks upon the fact that the special centers of cholera existed before the invasion of that disease as fever nests; and that cholera followed the footsteps of other diseases, not only in the same district, but in the same streets and houses, and even rooms.[1]

As with cholera, so with other causes of death. At Secunderabad, in India, in old days, the barrack accommodation for the line was unusally deficient, and the average annual mortality of the men was nearly double the average of the presidency. At the same station, both the officers, who were well quartered, and the detachment of artillery, who had roomier barracks "at no great distance," did not share in the heightened mortality (Carpenter, page 363). Barrackpore furnished an even worse exam-


  1. Of course it would be unfair to put all these cases simply and exclusively down to the effects of vitiated air, as we might, perhaps, in the case of the prison quoted above; since overcrowding in towns occurs among the poorest part of the people, living on the worst food, badly clothed, and therefore for these reasons exposed to attacks of disease; but with all such deductions the evidence is of a striking character. Dr. Richardson writes to the same effect. Speaking of relapsing fever, he says, "The disease (1847) followed where the habitation was most crowded" (Our Homes, p. V); and, again, "Certain it is that homes which are charged with impure atmosphere are the places in which septic diseases are most likely to be intensified and most likely to spread" (Our Homes, p. 21).