Dr. Cyrus Edson, of the Health Department of this city, says that the water supply—from dug or driven wells—of twenty towns he visited last year was impure, and in most cases its pollution caused prevalence of typhoid fever. Whereever persons are congregated in houses and villages this “filth disease”—discreditable to the boasted civilization of the nineteenth century—is epidemic. From Greenland to Ii.dia, from England to China, it holds fatal sway. Yet it is easily preventable, but its ravages grow more deadly from year to year, the teachings of science, confirmed by experience, seeming to be lost on the people at large. Elaborating and illustrating this expression, he talked as follows to a recent Commercial Advertiser interview’er :
“ The fever is rarely due to any other cause than polluted water, milk or meat, and is most frequently propagated by contaminated well water. It is safe to say that there is not a well in the country the water of which it is safe to drink. Hence most of the cases of typhoid occurring in this city in the fall are caused by water drunk from wells during the summer outing. Those wells furnish nice, sweet-tasting water, which will impress the drinker with its purity ; but they are really what the Bible calls ‘ whited sepulchres.’ The wells are sunk near the houses, often under the floors of the kitchens, near which are built the cesspools. The wells draw their supply of water from inverted cones, the base of which is the ground surface. The cesspools contaminate the cones, and the germs of typhoid are thus spread.
“ Another cause of the fever is ice-lice, from infected water, which have been shown to be a source of danger. The germ is not destroyed by extreme cold. The germs that caused the Plymouth epidemic were exposed to a temperature of twentytwo degrees below zero. Dr. Fordyce Barker recently showed that, of twenty-two cases of typhoid fever developed at a popular watering place in this State during one of last summer’s months, it was found that only those who used ice from a lake near by were affected. This ice was cut from a point near the entrance of a sewer, which drained the town or a portion of it. The use of this ice was stopped, and the epidemic ceased. Milk may be the carrier of typhoid germs, and may become infected either through the water used in washing cans or get the germs through the digestive system of the cow.”
The conclusions, based upon well-authenticated data, are thus summed up by Dr. Edson, and they impress anew, for immediate and universal application, the constant need cf cleanliness and use of the safeguard of a high degree of heat applied to water, milk and meat for human consumption :
“ First, the typhoid is due to a germ, in bacillus typhosus ; second, this germ is contained in the sputa of typhoid fever patients ; and, thirdly, the bacillus typhosus is easily destroyed by disinfection with efficient agents, such as heat, mercuric bichloride and carbolic acid. Typhoid fever never infects the atmosphere ; never arises de novo, and the causes of the disease in the order of their frequency are as follows : First, infected water ; second, infected milk ; third, infected ice ; fourth, digital infections; fifth, infected meat.”
—C. F. Treat, an American contractor, who has recently made a tour over the route selected for the Nicaragua canal, has made the following statements about the work: “There arc no serious engineering difficulties. If the work were to be done in the United States the cost could be estimated as easily as that of a railroad. As located, every part of the work can be carried on without delay. The surface of the lake is 107 feet above the sea. The level will extend to within fifteen miles of the harbor of Greytown on the Atlantic side, and to within three miles of the harbor of Brito on the Pacific. Eying between these distances will be an uninterrupted waterway of 152 miles. The terminus of the canal on the Pacific is at the mouth of the Rio Grande, where there is a good anchorage. About three miles of the canal from the Pacific towards the lake w ill be in the valley of this stream. I’he remainder of the distance will be mostly dry excavation. The heaviest piece of work on the line is on the great divide cut across the San Francisco range. l’he cut is to be through rock three miles long, with an average depth of 120 feet.”