It is the custom with some ignorant mothers to pur-566 posely expose their children to mild cases of fever, especially measles, chicken-pox, and scarlatina, because they say the children are certain to get them at some time or another, and in this way they think their chil-dren will have mild attacks which will protect them in the future. Such a practice is almost criminal, and should be absolutely condemned, and for the following reasons. It is not certain that a child will have fever at some time or another ; if proper precautions were taken it would not have an infectious disease. A mild attack in one person is not always followed by a mild attack in another, but may give rise to a very serious one. One attack of fever does not necessarily prevent a second attack of the same fever at some future time. The death-rate in children suffering from most fevers (such as measles or scarlatina) is always greater than in adults. Finally, as a rule, the older a child grows the less likely is it to be attacked by a particular fever.
This word should only be used to indicate some process or chemical agent which will absolutely kill germs and spores. It is, however, unfortunately applied to other classes, the antiseptics, which will only stop the growth of the germs, but will not kill them ; and the deodorants, which merely remove disagreeable smells, and often have no action whatever on the germs themselves. It is obvious that we must use a true disinfectant if we wish to prevent the spread of disease.
Deodorants are such substances as the vapors of turpentine, burning peat, or boiling tar ; such liquids as Condy's fluid, or various odorous fluids such as eucalyptus; and such solids as charcoal or camphor. Most of these take away unpleasant smells, but are otherwise useless.
Antiseptics include such bodies as borax, boracic acid, chloride of lime, thymol, Condy's fluid, and various patent disinfectants (so-called). These will arrest the growth of germs, and so prevent putrefac-faction, but few of them will absolutely kill germs. Condy's fluid will, of course, do so, but only when used in such a strong solution that it would discolor and destroy any clothes put into it.
True disinfectants are of three kinds: fumigation, heat, and chemical.
This is the best method of disinfection as, if the temperature is sufficiently high, all germs and their spores will be destroyed. Unfortunately, it cannot be applied in the case of all infected articles. A ready method of heat-disinfection which can be used in every household is, where possible, to boil any infected article, as it has been shown that by boiling for ten minutes all germs and spores are destroyed.
Although there are many so-called disinfectants offered for sale, yet only a few are true disinfectants if used in a strength which will not destroy the articles to be disinfected. Of these we shall only mention two, namely, carbolic acid and corrosive sublimate. Both of these are dangerous poisons, and must be handled with the utmost care. Carbolic acid needs to be diluted in the proportion of I part acid to 20 parts water. Corrosive sublimate is sold in the form of tablets, colored blue to avoid accidents. These must be dissolved in water in the proportion of I part to 1,000.