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awaiting such a micro-organism may be gathered from the fact that during the outbreak of plague in Sydney the crusade against rats which followed led to the slaughter in one year of over 100,000.
The discoverer of this useful member of the microbial community is Tssatschenko, of the University of St. Petersburg, and in his memoir he states that, whilst highly virulent as regards rats, it is quite harmless to domestic animals of various kinds. Thus cats, dogs, fowls, and pigeons when fed with food infected with the bacillus suffered no ill effects whatever, whilst its administration in large quantities to farm stock, such as horses, oxen, pigs, sheep, geese, and ducks, was also without result; hence its distribution, according to its discoverer, offers no danger to other animals.
This idea of employing bacteria as executioners was not original, for Pasteur had already in 1888 suggested to the Intercolonial Rabbit Commission in Australia that chicken-cholera microbes should be employed for destroying the rabbits, which then, as now, are such a source of difficulty and pecuniary loss to the country. No active measures appear to have been taken, however, to carry out this suggestion, one of the principal objections raised being the undesirability of introducing a disease which was at that
time believed to be a stranger to the colony. Recently the idea has been revived by Mr. Pound, the Government bacteriologist at Brisbane, in consequence of his discovery that chicken-cholera, far from not existing in Australia, has infested poultry yards more or less extensively for several years past, although it has only lately been accurately diagnosed as such. This chicken-cholera microbe is particularly well suited for the work in question, inasmuch as, whilst extremely fatal to rabbits, it produces, like Loeffler's bacillus, no ill effect whatever on farm-stock of various kinds, and is perfectly harmless to man, so that its handling by the uninitiated is not attended with any personal danger.
This brings us to what may be designated the human side of bacteriology, i.e. its relation to disease and its prevention. In these important departments of life the services already rendered by this infant prodigy of science can as yet be only approximately appreciated. Anthrax, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, plague, influenza, tetanus, erysipelas, are only a few of the diseases the active agents of which bacteriology has revealed to us. Bacteriology has, however, not been content to merely identify particular micro-organisms with particular diseases, it has striven to devise means by which such diseases may be mastered, and one
of the most glorious achievements of the past sixty years is the progress which has been made in the domain of preventive medicine.
The classical investigations of Pasteur on the attenuation of bacterial viruses such as those of chicken-cholera and anthrax, and his elaboration of a method of vaccination with these weakened viruses whereby the power of the disease over its victim is removed or modified, are too well known to require repetition here. The success which followed Pasteur's researches in this direction led him to undertake that great and difficult task, the prevention of rabies in the human subject-a task well-nigh superhuman in its demands, and one which only he could accomplish in whose life the pregnant words of a modern writer found expression—"il ne suffit pas de posséder une vérité, il faut que la vérité nous possède.” The victory over this disease, which crowned a long life replete with brilliant achievements, has been universally recognised, and numerous institutes have arisen in all quarters of the globe for extending the benefits of this discovery for the relief of suffering humanity. These Pasteur or bacteriological institutes also furnish highly important centres where original research work of various kinds is carried on, and the stimulus which has thus been given to experimental science in the re
motest parts of the world cannot be overestimated.
Methods for the prevention of disease have, however, not been confined to the elaboration and employment of modified or weakened bacterial viruses; the subject has been still more recently approached from another and quite different side. This new departure we also originally owe to France, although its practical development has been worked out in Germany.
It was in 1888 that two Frenchmen, Richet and Héricourt, communicated a memoir to the Comptes rendus of the Academy of Sciences, describing the curious results they had obtained with rabbits purposely infected with a disease microbe, the Staphylococcus pyosepticus. Some of the rabbits died after being inoculated with this micro-organism and some remained alive, and they proceed to point out how it was that such different results were obtained. Before the inoculations were made some of the animals received injections of blood taken from a dog, which a few months previously had been infected with this same microbe, but had recovered. The rabbits which received the dog's blood all survived the inoculations, whilst those which did not, succumbed in every case to the action of the Staphylococcus pyosepticus. So struck were the
authors by these remarkable results that they repeated them, and their further investigations fully confirmed those originally obtained, proving that they were not “un fait exceptionnel.”
Here we have the first steps in the direction of serum-therapy, that new treatment of disease which during the last few years has been so prominently before the public in the cure of diphtheria, tetanus, and other maladies, and for the development of which we owe so much to the labours of Behring, Roux, Kitasato, and other investigators.
The astounding fact that the blood of animals which have been trained to artificially withstand a particular disease becomes endowed with the power of protecting other animals from that disease is only in the earliest stages of its application. The results, however, which have already been accomplished are of so encouraging a character that the hope is justified that serumtherapy is destined to revolutionise the treatment of disease. One of the latest uses which has been made of this method of combating disease is the employment of serum for the cure of bubonic plague. During the recent outbreak of plague in India, Yersin, formerly a student and assistant at the Paris Pasteur Institute, was despatched to India to superintend the administration of this