The Symptoms of Cholera

Three Stages. 1. Vomiting and purging; fluid stools resembling rice-water. 2. Contracted pupils; spasms; cramps in abdomen and lower limbs; skin cool; pulse intermittent 3. Suppression of the urine; great thirst; feeble pulse; difficult breathing; tongue and breath very cold; lips and skin blue; voice husky and unnatural; features pinched and shrunken; headache; drowsiness; coma.

The symptoms are not very greatly different from those of bad cases of cholera morbus. In fact, when cholera is prevailing, it is generally considered impossible to distinguish between the two diseases. The disease may vary in intensity from ample cholerine to the gravest form of the disease. When an epidemic is prevailing, all cases should be subjected to vigorous measures of treatment.

The Causes of Cholera

True, or Asiatic, cholera is one of those much-dreaded diseases which occur in epidemics, frequently almost depopulating the infected districts, often half of those attacked by it dying within a few days. The disease is undoubtedly a contagious one, being communicable from one to another, though not exactly in the same sense that smallpox, scarlatina, and similar diseases are contagious. Experiments have shown that the disease is not communicated by the direct or indirect contact of the body of the person affected, by the products of respiration, or by exhalations from the skin, but by discharges from the bowels. They are supposed to contain a specific germ peculiar to this disease, and the real cause of the affection. Facts seem also to support the idea that the germs of the cholera disease are less active in the bowel discharges when they are fresh than after decomposition has progressed for a few days. The circumstances which favor the decomposition of organic matter seem very clearly to favor the extension of cholera after it has once been introduced Careful investigations have clearly shown that the most common means by which cholera poison reaches the system is through drinking-water, and perhaps, in some instances, food. Wells become contaminated from cesspools, sewers, etc., which have received the discharges from a cholera patient, and thus the disease is sown broadcast. The native home of cholera seems to be in India, where in certain districts it constantly exists, being disseminated to neighboring countries, even to the most distant parts of the globe, through various means of human intercourse. A singular periodicity in the occurrence of cholera has led some visionary theorists to very strange conclusions respecting its cause. Observing that the great epidemics of the disease occurred about every twelve years, a certain Dr. Knapp of Mexico originated a few years ago the idea of planetary pestilence, his theory being that the disease is caused by the increased planetary attraction "incident to the perihelion of Jupiter, which also occurs once in twelve years." Dr. Knapp based his theory wholly upon the fact that the perihelion of Jupiter and the occurrence of great cholera epidemics take place in the same year. Taking this for a starting-point he proceeded to predict the occurrence of cholera and other epidemics with unexampled severity in the next decade,-1880-1890,-during which time the perihelion of Jupiter and that of several other large planets occur in conjunction. All that is required to show the fallacy of this theory is to find a sufficient explanation for the periodicity of cholera epidemic. This explanation is found in the following facts: The natives of India make periodical pilgrimages to Hurdwar, at the head of the Ganges. "Hundreds make the Juggernaut pilgrimage every year. Much larger numbers make the journey every third year. Every sixth and ninth years the number is still greater; and once in twelve years an immense throng, numbering more than three million people, make this long pilgrimage.

"Poor food, impure water, together with depressing meteorological conditions and the entire absence of any sanitary precautions, result in the production of the disease well characterized as Asiatic cholera. There is more or less of the disease every year; but once in twelve years, at the great pilgrimages, it assumes such proportions that it extends beyond the limits of its original habitat and carries devastation to thousands of households in the larger cities of Europe and even of this country.

"Once in sixty years there gathers at Hurdwar a throng of pilgrims still greater than is collected at the twelve-year pilgrimages. The consequence is the production of a still more formidable cholera scourge, of sufficient malignancy and strength to sweep over the greater portion of the Western as well as the Eastern continent before it is checked by the approach of the cold season."

The above statements are fully sustained by the eminent Dr. Peters, who has written a work in which he claims that since 1826 the cholera has regularly occurred as an epidemic at intervals of twelve years. He attributes the origin of each epidemic to the annual pilgrimages. He traces the course of two of these epidemics as follows:- "In 1826 it became epidemic in Hindostan, its native home, and gradually spread until, in 1829, it was distributed throughout Russia, reaching England in 1830-'31.

"In the spring of 1832 it was brought to Quebec, whence it was carried up the St. Lawrence and across the lakes to Detroit, where it met the United States troops going to the Black Hawk war. It was distributed to all the national posts and forts in the then extreme West, being specially severe at Fort Dearborn, Chicago, Fort Crawford, near Prairie Du Chien, and Fort Armstrong, at Rock Island. From the latter place it was carried down the Mississippi River, striking New Orleans in October of the same year.

"Twelve years thereafter, or in 1841, this contagion started in another tour around the world. It was found at Hurdwar in 1843; at Afghanistan, in Persia, in 1845; at Teheran in 1846; and Astrakhan in 1847. In 1848 it reached Havre, and was carried to New Orleans in some German emigrant ships the same year. From New Orleans it followed the travel up the Mississippi and along the Ohio. From St. Louis it was carried over the emigrant route to San Francisco, and eventually was distributed over nearly the whole country. Thus it will be seen that within the space of fourteen years the country suffered two visitations from the terrible plague. The first time, being introduced at Quebec and following the rivers and lakes, it reaches New Orleans by going down the Mississippi; the second time, it starts at New Orleans and goes up the river, and is thus distributed."

The Times of India clearly traces the origin of the last epidemic to the same source. The epidemic began in 1867. "In that year three millions of pilgrims, of whom a handful had come from a cholera district, assembled at Hurdwar, a few miles from the spot where the Ganges escapes from the Himalayas. On the 12th of April the three millions resolved to bathe and drink. The bathing-place of the pilgrims was a space 650 feet long by 30 feet wide, shut off from the rest of the Ganges by rails. Into this long, narrow inclosure, pilgrims from all parts of the country crowded as closely as possible from early mom to sunset; the water within this space during the whole time was thick and dirty,- partly from the ashes of the dead, brought by surviving relatives to be deposited in the water of their river god, and partly from the washing of the clothes and bodies of the bathers. Now, pilgrims at the bathing-ghant, after entering the stream, dip themselves under the water three times or more, and then drink of the holy water, while saying their prayer. The drinking of the water is never omitted; and when two or more members of a family bathe together, each from his own hand gives to the other water to drink. On the evening of the next day, the 13th of April, eight cases of cholera were admitted into one of the hospitals at Hurdwar. By the 15th, the whole of this vast concourse of pilgrims had dispersed, carrying the cholera in every direction over India; it attacked the British troops along the various routes, it passed the northern frontier, got into Persia, and so on into Europe, where it will work its wicked will for some time to come."

These facts expose the fallacy of planetary-pestilence theories so thoroughly that we do not need to adduce any further arguments. We should have considered the subject almost unworthy of notice were it not for the fact that considerable attention has recently been given to it by several popular newspapers which have published sensational articles tending to propagate the theory, without attempting any exposure of the fallacy.

Among the predisposing causes of cholera may be mentioned dissipated habits, the use of alcoholic drinks, unwholesome measures of diet, and anything which has a tendency to lower the vitality of the system. The use of cathartics is also to be deprecated when a cholera epidemic is prevailing. Mental depression is also a predisposing cause. It has been asserted that in cholera times thousands of persons die from simple fear of the disease, without having received into their system a single cholera germ; and it cannot be doubted that many who might otherwise escape harm are made unusually susceptible to the disease by excessive fear and dread.