Let us next inquire into the evidence regarding the conveyence of small-pox through the air. In the supplement to the Tenth Report of the Local Government Board for 1880-81 (c. 3,290) is a report by Mr. W.H. Power on the influence of the Fulham, Hospital (for small-pox) on the neighborhood surrounding it. Mr. Power investigated the incidence of small-pox on the neighborhood, both before and after the establishment of the hospital. He found that, in the year included between March, 1876, and March, 1877, before the establishment of the hospital, the incidence of small-pox on houses in Chelsea, Fulham and Kensington amounted to 0.41 per cent. (i.e., that one house out of every 244 was attacked by small-pox in the ordinary way), and that the area inclosed by a circle having a radius of one mile round the spot where the hospital was subsequently established (called in the report the "special area") was, as a matter of fact, rather more free from small-pox than the rest of the district. After the establishment of the hospital in March, 1877, the amount of small-pox in the "special area" round the hospital very notably increased, as is shown by the table by Mr. Power, given below.
This table shows conclusively that the houses nearest the hospital were in the greatest danger of small-pox. It might naturally be supposed that the excessive incidence of the disease upon the houses nearest to the hospital was due to business traffic between the hospital and the dwellers in the neighborhood, and Mr. Power admits that he started on his investigation with this belief, but with the prosecution of his work he found such a theory untenable.
ADMISSIONS OF ACUTE SMALL-POX TO FULHAM HOSPITAL, AND INCIDENCE OF SMALL-POX UPON HOUSES IN SEVERAL DIVISIONS OF THE SPECIAL AREA DURING FIVE EPIDEMIC PERIODS.
+---------+---------------------+------------------------------------------------+ | | Incidence on every 100 houses within the | | | special area and its divisions. | Cases of |The epidemic periods +--------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ acute |since opening |On total|On small |On first |On second|On third | small-pox.|of hospital. |special | circle, | ring, | ring, | ring, | | | area. |0-¼ mile.|¼-½ mile.|½-¾ mile.|¾-1 mile.| ----------+---------------------+--------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ 327 |March-December 1877 | 1.10 | 3.47 | 1.37 | 1.27 | 0.36 | 714 |January- | | | | | | | September, 1878 | 1.80 | 4.62 | 2.55 | 1.84 | 0.67 | 679 |September 1878- | | | | | | | October 1879 | 1.68 | 4.40 | 2.63 | 1.49 | 0.64 | 292 |October, 1879- | | | | | | | December, 1880 | 0.58 | 1.85 | 1.06 | 0.30 | 0.28 | 515 |December 1880- | | | | | | | April 1881 | 1.21 | 2.00 | 1.54 | 1.25 | 0.61 | ----------+---------------------+--------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ 2,527 |Five periods | 6.37 | 16.34 | 9.15 | 6.15 | 2.56 | ----------+---------------------+--------+---------+---------+---------+---------+
Now, the source of infection in cases of small-pox is often more easy to find than in cases of some other forms of infectious disease, and mainly for two reasons:
1. That the onset of small-pox is usually sudden and striking, such as is not likely to escape observation.
2. That the so-called incubative period is very definite and regular, being just a fortnight from infection to eruption.
The old experiments of inoculation practiced on our forefathers have taught us that from inoculation to the first appearance of the rash is just twelve days. Given a case of small-pox, then one has only to go carefully over the doings and movements of the patient on the days about a fortnight preceding in order to succeed very often in finding the source of infection.
In the fortnight ending February 5, 1881, forty-one houses were attacked by small-pox in the special mile circle round the hospital, and in this limited outbreak it was found, as previously, that the severity of incidence bore an exact inverse proportion to the distance from the hospital.
The greater part of these were attacked in the five days January 26-30, 1881, and in seeking for the source of infection of these cases, special attention was directed to the time about a fortnight previous viz., January 12-17, 1881. The comings and goings of all who had been directly connected with the hospital (ambulances, visitors, patients, staff, nurses, etc.) were especially inquired into, but with an almost negative result, and Mr. Power was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that small-pox poison had been disseminated through the air.
During the period when the infection did spread, the atmospheric conditions were such as would be likely to favor the dissemination of particulate matter. Mr. Power says: "Familiar illustration of that conveyance of particulate matter which I am here including in the term dissemination is seen, summer and winter, in the movements of particles forming mist and fog. The chief of these are, of course, water particles, but these carry gently about with them, in an unaltered form, other matters that have been suspended in the atmosphere, and these other matters, during the almost absolute stillness attending the formation of dew and hoar frost, sink earthward, and may often be recognized after their deposit.
"As to the capacity of fogs to this end, no Londoner needs instruction; and few persons can have failed to notice the immense distances that odors will travel on the 'air breaths' of a still summer night. And there are reasons which require us to believe particulate matter to be more easy of suspension in an unchanged form during any remarkable calmness of atmosphere. Even quite conspicuous objects, such as cobwebs, may be held up in the air under such conditions. Probably there are few observant persons of rural habits who cannot call to mind one or another still autumn morning, when from a cloudless, though perhaps hazy, sky, they have noted, over a wide area, steady descent of countless spider webs, many of them well-nigh perfect in all details of their construction."
A reference to the meteorological returns issued by the registrar-general shows that on the 12th of January, 1881, began a period of severe frost, characterized by still, sometimes foggy, weather, with occasional light airs from nearly all points of the compass. This state of affairs continued till January 18, when there was a notable snow storm, and a gale from the E.N.E. For four days, up to and inclusive of January 8, ozone was present in more than its usual amounts. During January 9-16, it was absent. On January 17 it reappeared, and on January 18 it was abundant. Similar meteorological conditions (calm and no ozone) were found to precede previous epidemics.
Mr. Power's report, with regard to Fulham, seems conclusive, and there is a strong impression that hospitals, other than Fulham, have served as centers of dissemination.
In the last lecture I gave you the opinion of M. Bertillon, of Paris, and quoted figures in support of that opinion. It is a fact of some importance to remember that small-pox is one of those diseases which has a peculiar odor, recognizable by the expert. As to its conveyance for long distances through the air, there are some curious facts quoted by Professor Waterhouse, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a letter addressed to Dr. Haygarth at the close of the last century. Professor Waterhouse states that at Boston there was a small-pox hospital on one side of a river, and opposite it, 1,500 yards away, was a dockyard, where, on a certain misty, foggy day, with light airs just moving in a direction from the hospital to the dockyard, ten men were working. Twelve days later all but two of these men were down with small-pox, and the only possible source of infection was the hospital across the river. (To be continued.)Three lectures before the Society of Arts, London. From the Journal of the Society.