Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/236

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The early observations of the Italian investigators, Rivolta and Mafucci, have been confirmed and so extended as to give us a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the capacities for pathogenic action, upon different animal species, of the avian bacilli. At the same time painstaking studies of the degree to which birds are subject to inoculation with pure cultures of tubercle bacilli of human origin support the view of diversity in type of bacilli and susceptibility of species. And yet, while fowl react only with slight local lesions, as a rule, to inoculations of tubercle bacilli of human origin, certain mammals have proved themselves fairly subject to experimental inoculation with avian bacilli. While the guinea-pig, otherwise so sensitive to inoculation tuberculosis with the mammalian bacilli, is relatively resistant to the avian variety, the rabbit, which exhibits a marked degree of refractoriness to the human bacilli, succumbs quite readily to the avian bacilli. It is, however, worth noting that the reactions in the rabbit which avian tubercle bacilli call forth do not conform to those observed in tuberculosis in general; there is absence of typical tubercles and caseation, and the chief pathological alterations observed are found in connection with the enlarged spleen.

The literature on tuberculosis contains a small number of references to the cultivation from human subjects of the avian tubercle bacillus. From our present knowledge it may be postulated that avian tubercle bacilli occur rarely in man. Rabinowitsch has, indeed, recently emphasized the occasional occurrence of the avian bacilli in cattle, swine, horses and monkeys; but they constitute a small source of danger in the spread of tuberculous disease among mammals. The parrot, because of its use as a pet and of its susceptibility to the avian bacillus, on the one hand, and of the human bacillus, on the other, is a greater menace to public welfare.

The subject of bovine tuberculosis and of bovine tubercle bacilli is among the most important of all the questions relating to the suppression of tuberculosis. The admirable studies of Theobald Smith established the distinction in type subsisting between certain bacilli of human and of bovine origin. We have come now to regard these types as separate and not to be transmuted, at least not readily under artificial conditions of cultivation, into each other. Into the disputed questions of variation due to environment I can not afford to enter. But I would have you believe that transformations of avian, bovine and human bacilli into each other have probably not been accomplished by experimentation. The cultivation of one variety of bacilli in the body of an alien species has been said to alter profoundly the properties of the bacilli; but the observations upon this point are in my opinion far from convincing. The mere fact that avian and bovine varieties of bacilli preserve their peculiar properties when occurring naturally in