Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/660

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records give abundant evidence, especially in the epidemics of 1867 and 1870.

But, spread all over the country, especially in its northern parts, there is a large Mohammedan population, from among whom there pours out an annual pilgrimage which wends its way to Mecca, the holy place which every faithful Moslem strives to reach—a pilgrimage which of late years has been a recurring danger to the Western world, having been the means of introducing to Egypt in 1866 that outbreak of cholera which carried off sixty thousand of its inhabitants in the course of three months; and of sending on to England the infection, which destroyed six thousand people in London; besides being the origin of the various epidemics which have fallen so heavily on the south of Europe, although they have not done great harm to our own more favored land.

The fairs and pilgrimages of the East constitute the danger of the West, and it is now recognized in every land that this danger is vastly aggravated by the, greater rapidity of communication in these latter days. When by weary marches, or sailing in small boats, tacking day after day against opposing winds, months, nay sometimes years, were spent in the journey, those who were taken ill died in the transit; whole caravans melted away, and ships with cholera-stricken crews were lost, together with their crowded cargo of holy pilgrims, and thus the outer world was saved. But with quicker means of communication, with railways and steamboats, and the general hurry of modern life, pilgrims also have quickened their pace, and, what is most important, have lengthened the stages and lightened the labor of their journey, so that the infected ones have lived through hundreds instead of tens of miles before they dropped, and have thus surmounted the barrier of desert and of sea by which Europe was formerly protected. No longer does cholera necessarily sneak round by Russia and the Caucasus, infecting the various resting places on its way, and setting out again as opportunity arises and as caravans and travelers may serve. At one bound it is in Jiddah. Mecca becomes a center of infection, and Red Sea ports distribute the disease to Egypt and the south of Europe.

Ordinary traffic can be watched, and by medical inspection cases of disease can be picked out and isolated; but with a sudden crowding of sixty thousand people devoid of all sanitary knowledge into a country ill equipped with sanitary appliances, governed by rulers whose chief principle and guide is a fatalistic trust in the will of Allah, the problem is complicated in a high degree.

It must not be forgotten that the spread of cholera is not entirely due to the infection carried by those who are attacked. No