THE ITHACA TYPHOID EPIDEMIC.
It is somewhat difficult to write impartially on the subject of the typhoid fever epidemic at Ithaca, N. Y. The feeling is all against the authorities of the University of Cornell, because so many of its students have been attacked by, and have died of the disease. The result is that over two-thirds of the students have left for their homes; the lecture courses are interfered with; and the institution itself is demoralised. Hence, an outcry has gone up against the university authorities, as if they were solely responsible for the visitation. It has been satisfactorily shown that the university, as a corporation, holds a large block of bonds of the Ithaca Water company, and it has, therefore, been argued that it is responsible for the condition of the water, whose pollution has caused the disease to break out among the students. But the trustees of the university are not stockholders of the company, any more than they are of other waterworks companies in other parts of the country, whose bonds they hold as producers of revenue. So far, therefore, they are not responsible, nor does it seem just to accuse them of being interestedly slow, or for their own reasons refusing to make any efforts towards procuring a supply of uncontaminated and wholesome water. So far as Cornell university is concerned, it has done its best to secure just such a supply for its students. The water from the artesian wells it has caused to be drilled within its limits is everything that could be desired, and is supplied for the asking to every student who so desires. Its source of supply at Fair creek, stated to be perfectly wholesome, is not the same as that which is furnished to the citizens of Ithaca, and is also always on hand for the use of the students. The latter, it must he remembered, do not board in the college, but in city boardinghouses, which, of course, depend either upon private wells or the supply from the Ithaca Water company’s mains. Even here, however, the university authorities have done their best for the health of their students, by making every boardinghouse keeper sign an agreement to boil all the water used for drinking, cooking, washing uncooked vegetables, and such dishes, pans, vessels, and the like, as are used for serving food or drink— in fact, for all table purposes. That some, or many of these boardinghouse keepers have not kept this agreement, or that some students have at times not availed themselves of the wholesome water gratuitously supplied by the university, is surely not to be put down to the account of that body, nor do we suppose that it can be held responsible, if the boardinghouse water was not duly and daily inspected by the university authorities. Their legal right to insist upon such a course would certainly be called in question by those immediately concerned, and had they insisted upon entering the premises of the boarding mistress for any such purpose, they would undoubtedly have laid themselves open to an action for trespass. The university promises that in September it will supply filtered water to all its students from a filtration plant it intends to build forthwith, and that for the future all the water supplied to the students’ boardinghouses shall he duly inspected. We do not see what more they can do, unless they use their indirect influence as bondholders to induce the company to remedy the existing evil conditions, or upon the State authorities to see to it (as the State board of health will without doubt see to it) that an upto-date filtration plant is built by the Ithaca Water company, and that every possible source of pollution is removed from its watershed. If what we hear is correct, the source of the disease is traceable to some shacks in which Italian laborers are quartered near Buttermilk creek, which, with Six-Mile creek, forms the source of Ithaca’s water supply. That the company will see to this (it is to its interest to do so), and that the citizens of Ithaca will insist that it shall so see to it, we have no doubt. Meanwhile we would suggest that what has happened in that city has happened not there alone, but in many others in the United States, with even more fatal results. Ithaca, however, is the seat of Cornell university—where are assembled from all quarters some hundreds of the flower of American youth. Hence, the epidemic has excited more notice than if it had occurred elsewhere than in a university town, and the fact seems to have escaped notice, that there are others in the city who have been as terribly afflicted, both mentally and physically. as the students of Cornell and their relations and friends. Had it not been for the latter, indeed, the Ithaca epidemic would have received at most a passing notice, whereas the notoriety thrust upon it will be the principal means of fitting sanitarymeasures being taken to provide against such an epidemic breaking out again from a similar cause within its confines. Out of evil, therefore, will come good.