BUFFALO AND FILTRATION.
DR. WALTER D. GREENE, assistant health commissioner of Buffalo, N. Y., while discussing filtration at a recent conference, said that the death-rate from typhoid fever for any given city can be taken as an index of the purity of the water supply. If the public water supply is polluted, then the “only safe remedy” is municipal filtration. Filters for domestic use he condemned most unequivocally as “useless generally or worse than useless.” As to typhoid fever in Buffalo: The average rate for each 100,000 population had been sixty in 1894; thirty-two in 1895; nineteen and one-half in 1896; twentytwo in 1897; and thirty-one for the first three months of 1898. This he looked upon as
not a bad showing, as compared with other cities using raw water; and yet, with the increase of population and the increased liability of water contamination, the rate is liable to grow, unless the water is properly filtered. The health department is taking all the precautions known to sanitary science to keep down the death-rate; but there are factors to contend with that cannot be controled by municipal authority.
Among these factors is the pollution of the water (1) by other towns and cities on the same line of supply and (2) by freshets, which bring down all manner of impurities. Thus it was that
in September, 1895, there occurred 115 cases of typhoid fever in Buffalo, as against fifty-one and twenty-four in the corresponding months of 1896 and 1897—an increase of over 100 per cent, in one case and nearly 500 in the other. The undoubted cause was an outbreak of typhoid fever along the banks of Grand river in Canada, which empties into lake Erie about forty miles above Buffalo. This was at its height in August, and the conditions were favorable for the typhoid bacillus to float down the lake and river and be taken into our water pipes. Not since 1894 have there been so many cases of typhoid fever reported in March as occurred last month—fifty cases,with eleven deaths. In March, 1895, there were reported four cases of typhoid; in March, 1896, twenty; in March, 1897,nine; and in March, 1898, fifty. This I believe to have been due to the thaws and freshets in February, when Buffalo river overflowed its banks, bringing all sorts of debris down from the country, spreading over large areas of manured land, and running far out into the harbor—far enough for some of it to be taken up at the inlet pier and pumped into our houses.
It is, therefore, obvious, that, notwithstanding the improvements which Buffalo has been making in the way of increasing and otherwise improving its water supply, recourse must be had to filtration, if the city, is to be rendered immune from typhoid epidemics. A filtering plant, will, of course, cost money and will demand the closest attention—to be efficient it should be bacteriologicallv examined daily. But, then, the value of human life cannot be computed by dollars and cents. A proper filtering plant established in Buffalo would result in the saving of from fifty to TOO lives annually from typhoid fever alone.