Medical Diary of the Week

1870 The Lancet  
WE perceive by some of the country papers that a few noisy opponents to the Compulsory Vaccination Act are yet doing the little they can to dis-, turb the operation of what is a very necessary measure for the preserva-I tion of the public health. It is impossible for them to gainsay facts, and I it will not be very easy to prevent reasonable people from drawing correct conclusions when the evidence is so clear. It is not so long ago that epidemics of small-pox used to devastate this land,
more » ... te this land, killing thousands, and scarring the faces and blinding the eyes of those who survived the attack. Is that the case now ? In Russia, where vaccination is not compulsory, the deaths are said to have averaged 150,000 per annum during the last 70 years. Recently small-pox has been prevailing in an epidemic form in Paris and New York, and its attacks among the unvaccinated are as severe as ever. That vaccinated people are attacked is true enough, but the disease is generally far less severe; and it ought to be remembered, on the one hand, that the susceptibility to the action of all animal poisons varies much in different people, and, on the other, that a permanent effect of these poisons on the system is not'always attained. One attack of small-pox does generally, but not invariably, afford immunity from a recurrence of that malady, and the protective influence afforded by vaccination is probably equal to that conferred by a previous attack ofsmall-pox. We have seen it argued by some that epidemics of small-pox are to be regarded as belonging to certain periods of history; that small-pox, like the scourges of the middle ages, had a certain run, as it were; and that its dying out as a disease was coincident with Jenner's discovery of the prophylactic power of vaccination. Now these statements are quite gratuitous, and opposed to the facts. Small-pox may be regarded, for instance, as endemic in certain parts of India; it kills the native population out of all proportion to the European troops in a locality where it is prevalent. Repeated observations have invariably led to one conclusion, that the number and severity of the cases of small-pox, where it is prevailing as an epidemic, are in direct ratio to the number of unprotected persons exposed to its influence. The outbreak at High Wycombe attained, for the size of the place, considerable proportions, and one of the main causes of this was the neglect of vaccination. There will always be people to take up any subject out of which a little capital can be made by platform orators. They do an infinity of harm, in that they influence the minds of those who have not the means of studying the facts impartially for themselves, and that must be our apology for noticing a subject to which our motto " Ne quid nimis" might be properly applied. D1'. W. J. Stott.-The communication from the Honorary Secretary of the Manchester Medico-Ethical Society has been received. A DISCLAIMER.
doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(02)61437-0 fatcat:ws6zazqyeracjjgxwntutw7ray