(Specially translated for FIRE AND WATER.)
One of these days people will recognize the fact that bacteria are every where—in the water we drink; in every inch of soil below us; in the air above and round us. They are the agents of life and death and cannot be got rid of. except by a process of universal sterilization, which, humanly speaking, it is impossible to carry out. Their power of multiplication is virtually infinite. In a single day one of these germs will multiply to 17,000,000, and at the end of three days to 4,720,000,000,000. Only the fact that these germs are self-destroying stands in the way of their overwhelming everything. The slide of a stereopticon recently shown illustrated bacteria found on a piece of clothing worn by a man who died from cholera. The clothing was simply crowded with cholera germs. This showed the importance of burning or destroying all clothing which had been in contact with persons who had been suffering from any infectious disease. Another showed the countless bacteria found in a drop of water; and this led to drawing an imaginary picture. Supposing by some powerful disinfectant or antiseptic we were able to kill off all bacteria, what would be the results? Disease would have disappeared; there would be no fevers, no smallpox; anthrax would be unknown; there would be no need of a tuberculosis commission; and even toothache would be a thing of the past. Boils and carbuncles would have disappeared; milk would not go sour; butter would not become rancid; and there would be no meat going bad in the summer time. But there would be other things which would not be so palatable. Butter would be quite tasteless; there would be no washing days because there would be nothing to wash; there would be no vegetables grown, because farmers would not be able to utilize the action of the bacteria. There would be no cheese —and, then, What would the poor smokers do for tobacco? They are absolutely dependent upon bacteria for the flavor of “the weed.” A germless world would thus not be an unmixed blessing. If men could get food, they would not be able to digest it, because the bacteria which are always in the body produce beneficent changes in helping digestion. Therefore, they would all die of indigestion, if they were able to get food, which would not be likely. And here let it be noted, that an analysis of some cheap icecream from a peddler’s pushcart showed that in a third of a teaspoonful there were over 3,000,000 of germs!
The plans for the new water works system at Oceanside, Cal., call for 750,000 gallons of water every twenty-four hours, to be pumped from the river bed to a reservoir 225 feet above sea level, whence it will flow by gravity to another reservoir a mile and a half away, and then to the distributing system of the city.