Contagion (Lat. contagio, from con, together, and tangere, to touch), primarily, the propagation of disease by contact. It is scarcely distinguished in usage, even by medical writers, from infection, which designates the communication of disease by effluvia through the air. The contagious matter is the subtle, poisonous particles which diffuse themselves through the atmosphere, or attach themselves to various substances, as clothing and furniture. Concentrated in wool or fur, they retain their power of originating disease after being carried to a great distance. Among diseases propagated by immediate contagion, or direct application of the contagious matter, are syphilis, cowpox, purulent ophthalmia, and several others; among those communicated by remote contagion, or infection, are smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, mumps, and whooping cough. (See Epidemic Diseases).
Contarini, a Venetian family, which counted eight doges among its members, and a large number of other persons of distinction. I. Andrea, doge from 1367 to 1382. The Genoese under Pietro Doria conquered Chiozza in 1379, and even threatened Venice. Andrea, then about 80 years of age, took command of the fleet, reconquered Chiozza (1380), and freed the republic from its enemies. He refused the dignity of doge when first elected, but was obliged to assume it in order to avoid being treated as a rebel. II. Ambrogio, a Venetian ambassador, wrote an interesting account of his journey and mission to Persia in 1473 (Itinerario nell anno 1473 ad Usun Cassan, Re di Persia, Venice, 1487). III. Giovanni, a painter, whose style was formed on that of Titian, born in 1549, died in 1605. He visited Germany, where he remained for some time, and was knighted by the emperor Rudolph II. His greatest work is a "Resurrection," in the church of San Francesco di Paola in Venice.
Contrayerva, the root of Dorstenia con-trayerva, a plant of the natural order urticacece and suborder morece, growing in Mexico, the Indies, and Peru. The contrayerva of the West shops is probably a product of several species of Dorstenia. It is a stimulant tonic and diaphoretic, but very seldom used in this country. Its reputation as an antidote for all kinds of poisons has not been proved to be well founded.
Contreras, a small village of Mexico, about 10 m. S. E. of the capital, at which a battle took place between the Americans and the Mexicans, Aug. 20, 1847. (See Churubusco).
Conventicle (Lat. conventiculum, a little assemblage), a term originally applied to a cabal among a portion of the monks of a convent, formed in secret to secure the election of an abbot according to their own wishes. It came to be used as a term of reproach, and as such was applied to the assemblies of the followers of Wycliffe in England. It was afterward applied to the secret meetings of the dissenters from the established church in England and Scotland. Prior to the revolution of 1688 several statutes were enacted for the suppression of conventicles, and they became the objects of severe persecution. The term has attained a general signification for a seditious or irregular assembly of any kind, but is little used in the United States.