Septicemia is poisoning from putrefaction. The poisoning may be slight and local, or it may be general and so intense that it overwhelms the patient, causing death in a few hours, and certainly in a few days.

A type of local as well as general septicemia may be furnished by puerperal subjects.

An injury at childbirth--a simple tear in the neck of the womb--may be bathed in a putrefactive lochia. The puerperal woman may not be kept clean--douches are neglected until the discharge is allowed to become septic. The torn part is submerged in this putrefaction, and enough is absorbed to set up a local inflammation and derange the blood so as to ruin the mother's milk for the infant, perhaps causing convulsions; or, if not so bad, then the milk may cause such a derangement of the stomach and bowels as to force weaning. In the mother's case, she may get off with a local ulceration, an endocervicitis, or an endometritis; or she may develop a phlebitis (milk-leg), and systemic infection may follow, leaving the way clear for a general or organic diathesis to establish a predisposed disease--namely, tuberculosis in one or more of its many phases, kidney, heart, or nervous diseases, or gout in the various forms.

When the septic infection is great (as it is when the womb is misplaced and drainage imperfect), absorption to a fatal amount is no infrequent happening.

There is a cut-and-dried classification of toxemias which corresponds to a bacterial classification that is legionary. To minds which respond only to the mystical, intricate, complex, and infinitely imaginative, bacteriology, with its infinite variety of germs of diseases--its theory of bacteriemia and bacterio-toxemia--certainly must be satisfying to a superlative degree.