Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/45

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39
THE HOUSE FLY

days, making only ten days for the complete life cycle. Dr. Howard considered that probably ninety-five per cent, of all house flies in towns and cities breed in the heaps of horse manure about the stables or in the fields. Later investigations of Dr. Howard and others show that the house fly may breed in privies, garbage cans and garbage heaps, street sweepings, waste from slaughter houses, and even between the folds of old paper from ash dumps. In fact, in almost any place where suitable moisture and food conditions exist.

 

Notable Typhoid Epidemics

The thoughtlessness of some persons having charge of the sick is described by Dr. Veeder in the New York Medical Record.[1] He states that he has seen dejecta from a typhoid patient emptied from a commode and the receptacle left standing without disinfection within a few feet of a pitcher of milk, both attracting flies, which fairly swarmed from one to the other. In the summer of 1898, when our armies were in camp in the southern states during the Spanish war, an epidemic of typhoid broke out. It caused much apprehension and cost many lives. Though the water supply was suspected, the authorities were not able to check the disease by the methods usually practised. Dr. Veeder was one of the first to advance the idea that the germs were being carried by flies, and it was not until the camp had been visited by government entomologists from Washington that the matter was properly controlled. I have the statement from a young soldier who at Chickamauga contracted the disease and was carried to a Philadelphia hospital for treatment, that the sinks or latrines had become filled to overflowing, and were not even covered with dirt, but, reeking with filth and disgusting odors, they attracted vast swarms of flies. It was but a short distance to the mess tents, where flies swarmed just as thickly, and during the investigation that followed, flies were taken from the food with their legs whitened by the lime that had been spread over the sinks. Thousands of soldiers were then encamped, hundreds were sick with typhoid, yet the able men had little or nothing to do, and might just as well have kept the camp in a sanitary condition. It appeared afterwards that the sanitary regulations of the surgeon general had not been followed: the privates dared not complain, the officers in charge were indifferent to this phase of the sanitation of the camp, and the surgeons were all busy administering to the sick and wounded. Such a condition is especially dangerous in view of the fact that in typhoid cases the germs are often given off in the dejecta before the disease has been recognized and before the patient takes to the bed, and also for a long time after recovery seems complete.

Permit me to quote from the official report of Messrs. Reed, Vaughan

  1. H. A. Veeder, New York Medical Record, Vol. 54, September 17, 1898.