Infection, the communication or contraction of some disease, from the effluvia, which arise either from the sick, or from the apartment in which they reside: hence it does not necessarily imply actual contact.
Having already pointed out the proper means of avoiding personal infection, under the article Contagion, we shall at present confine our attention to the most efficacious method of preventing the propagation of infectious diseases.
This important object has lately been investigated with equal zeal and success by the patriotic Society for Increasing the Comforts, etc. of the Poor; from whose abridged Account of the Cure and Prevention of Contagious Fevers in the Metropolis, (8vo. 2d edit, (id.) it appears that not less than three thousand one hundred and eighty-eight persons have annually died, upon an average (within the last hundred years) in consequence of infectious fevers.
The alarming increase of this malignant epidemic, is justly attributed to the close and confined dwellings of the poor, where the circulation of fresh air is almost entirely prevented. With a view to check such rapid progress, several benevolent members of the society above mentioned have formed a well-digested plan; in conformity to which, appropriate houses are to be opened, and provided with the requisite medical assistance of every kind, for the reception of such diseased poor as it may he deemed necessary to remove from their own habitations: others, in the meantime, will receive professional advice at home, and be regularly visited by the physician appointed for that purpose.—This laudable establishment is supported by subscription; and, we trust, from the known liberality of Britons, that it will never fail for want of effective support.
In places where infection has actually prevailed, the necessary precautions are immediately taken to prevent its return; and the society has, therefore, appropriated a certain sum of money for purifying the tainted habitations of the poor. Their method consists, simply, in washing the walls of the room with hot lime, which will render the place perfectly sweet.
The following rales are to be observed in houses during the prevalence of contagious fevers: they are extracted from an interesting letter lately published by Dr. Haygarth, on the prevention of infectious diseases.
1. As safety from danger depends entirely on cleanliness and fresh air, the door of a sick room, where a person labours under an infectious fever (especially in the habitations of the poor), ought never to be shut: a window in it should generally be opened during the day, and frequently during the night.
4. All discharges from the patient should be instantly removed, and the floor near the bed be rubbed every day with a wet mop or cloth.
5. As some parts of the air in a sick room are more infectious than others, both attendants and visitors should avoid the current of the patient's breath, the exhalation ascending from his body, especially if the bed-curtains be closed, and also the vapour arising from all evacuations. — When medical or other duties require a visitor or nurse to be in such dangerous situations, Dr. Haygarth observes, that infection may be frequently prevented by a temporary suspension of breathing.
6. Visitors ought not to enter infectious chambers,fasting; and, in doubtful circumstances, on their departure, it will be advisable to blow from the nose, and spit from the mouth, any infectious poison which may have been inhaled by the breath, and may adhere to those passages.
As these directions are highly important, we trust they will be scrupulously followed, in all cases where any infectious disorders unfortunately prevail.