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"Thames below London Bridge, that the diseases preva"lent in these districts are highly indicative of malarious "influences, fever-and-ague being very prevalent; and "that the sickness and mortality are greatest in those lo"calities which adjoin imperfectly drained lands, and far "exceed the usual average; and that ague and allied dis"orders frequently extend to the high grounds in the vicin"ity. In those districts where a partial drainage hag "been effected, a corresponding improvement in the health "of the inhabitants is perceptible."
In the evidence given before the committee, Dr. P Bossey testified that the malaria from salt marshes varied in intensity, being most active in the morning and in the Summer season. The marshes are sometimes covered by a little fog, usually not more than three feet thick, which is of a very offensive odor, and detrimental to health. Away from the marshes, there is a greater ten* dency to disease on the side toward which the prevailing winds blow.
Dr. James Stewart testified that the effect of malaria was greatest when very hot weather succeeds heavy rain or floods. He thought that malaria could be carried up a slope, but has never been known to descend, and that, consequently, an intervening hill affords sufficient protection against marsh malaria. He had known cases where the adges of a river were healthy and the uplands malarious.
In Santa Maura and Zante, where he had been stationed with the army, he had observed that the edge of a marsh would be comparatively healthy, while the higher places in the vicinity were exceedingly unhealthy. He thought that there were a great many mixed diseases which began like ague and terminated very differently; those diseases would, no doubt, assume a very different form if they were not produced by the marsh air; many diseases are very difficult to treat, from being of a mixed character beginning like marsh fevers and terminating like inflammatory fevers, or diseases of the chest.
Dr. George Farr testified that rheumatism and tic-doloreus were very common among the ladies who live at the Woolwich Arsenal, near the Thames marshes. Some of Ihese cases were quite incurable, until the patients removed to a purer atmosphere.
W. H. Gall, M. D., thought that the extent to which malaria affected the health of London, must of course be very much a theoretical question; "but it is very remark"able that diseases which are not distinctly miasmatic, do "become much more severe in a miasmatic district. In"fluenzas, which prevailed in England in 1847, were very "much more fatal in London and the surrounding parts "than they were in the country generally, and influenza "and ague poisons are very nearly allied in their effects. "Marsh miasms are conveyed, no doubt* a considerable "distance. Sufficiently authentio cases are recorded to "show that the influence of marsh miasm extends several "miles." Other physicians testify to the fact, that near the Thames marshes, the prevalent diseases are all of them of an aguish type, intermittent and remittent, and that they are accompanied with much dysentery. Dr. John Manly said that, when he first went to Barking, he found a great deal of ague, but since the draining, in a population of ten thousand, there are not half-a-dozen cases annually and but very little remittent.
The following Extract is taken from the testimony of Sir Culling Eardly, Bart.:
"Chairman:—I believe you reside at Belvidere, in the "parish of Erith ?—Yes.—Ch.: Close to these marshes? "—Yes.—Ch.: Can you speak from your own knowledge, "of the state of these marshes, with regard to public "health ?—Sir C.: I can speak of some of the results "which have been produced in tlie neighborhood, from the "condition of the marshes; the neighborhood is in om "continual state of ague. My own house is protected, from "the height of its position, and a gentleman's house is lesi"liable to the influence of malaria than the houses of the "lower classes. But even in my house we are liable to "ague; and to show the extraordinary manner in which "the ague operates, in the basement story of this house "where my men-servants sleep, we have more than once "had bad ague. In the attics of my house, where my "maid-servants sleep, we have never had it Persons are "deterred from settling in the neighborhood by the agu"ish character of the country. Many persons, attracted "by the beauty of the locality, wish to come down and "settle; but when they find the liability to ague, they "are compelled to give up their intention. I may mention "that the village of Erith itself, bears marks of the infra"ence of malaria. It is more like one of the desolate "towns of Italy, Ferrara, for instance, than a healthy, "happy, English village. I do not know whether it ia "known to the committee, that Erith is the village describ"ed in Dickens' Household Words, as Dumble-down"deary, and that it is a most graphic and correct descrip"tion of the state of the place, attributable to the unhealthy "character of the locality."
He also stated that the ague is not confined to the marshes, but extends to the high lands near them.
The General Board of Health, of England, at the close of a voluminous report, publish the following " Conclusions *" as to the Drainage of Suburban Lands:—
"1. Excess of moisture, even on lands not evidently wet, "is a cause of fogs and damps.
"2. Dampness serves as a medium for the conveyance of "any decomposing matter that may be evolved, and adds "to the injurious effects of such matters in the air:—in "other words the excess of moisture may be said to increass ** or aggravate atmospheric impurities.
"3. The evaporation of the surplus moisture lowers the "temperature, produces chills, and creates or aggravates "the sudden and injurious changes or fluctuations by "which health is injured."
In view of the foregoing opinions as to the cause of malaria, and of the evidence as to the effect of draining in removing the unhealthy condition in which those causes originate, it is not too much to say that,—in addition to the capital effect of draining on the productive capacity of the land,—the most beneficial sanitary results may be confidently expected from the extension of the practice, especially in such localities as are now unsafe, or at least undesirable for residence.
In proportion to the completeness and efficiency of the means for the removal of surplus water from the soil:—in proportion, that is, to the degree in which the improved tile drainage described in these pages is adopted,—will be the completeness of the removal of the causes of disease. So far as the drying of malarious lands is concerned, it is only necessary to construct drains in precisely the same manner as for agricultural improvement.
The removal of the waste of houses, and of other filth, irill be considered in the next chapter.
Note.—(Third edition.) No practical result has ever come of the researches of Dr. Salisbury described in this chapter, but his investigation followed with curious closeness the path through which later explorers—Pasteur, Koch, and others—have reached their remarkable identification of microscopic organisms as the means of contagion of a number of serious diseases of men and animals.
HOUSE DRAINAGE AND TOWN SEWERAGE IN THEIR RELATIONS TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH.
The following is extracted from a report made by the General Board of Health to the British Parliament, concerning the administration of the Public Health Act and the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Acts from 1848 to 1854.
"Where instances have been favorable for definite ob"servation, as in broad blocks of buildings, the effects of "sanitary improvement have been already manifested to an "extent greater than could have been anticipated, and than "can be readily credited by those who have not paid attention to the subject.
"In one favorable instance, that of between 600 and 700 "persons of the working class in the metropolis, during a "period of three years, the average rate of mortality lias "been reduced to between 13 and 14 in 1000. In another "instance, for a shorter period, among 500 persons, the "mortality has been reduced as low as even 7 in 1000. "The average rate of mortality for the whole metropolis "being 23 in 1000.
"In another instance, the abolishing of cess-pools and "their replacement by water-closets, together with the * abolishing of brick drains and their replacement by im