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The Harvey lectures (1915)


The Harvey lectures (1915)

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    Harvey Society of New York
Excerpt from book: THE AIR AS A VEHICLE OF INFECTION DR. CHARLES V. CHAPIN Health Department, Providence, R. I. FROM time immemorial, and until a very recent period, the air has been considered the chief vehicle of infection. It was certainly so when I became health officer thirty years ago. In the edition of 1883 of Parke's " Hygiene," the standard sanitary text-book of the time, malaria and yellow fever were considered typical air-borne diseases. Typhoid fever was also said to be largely air-borne, as were cholera and dysentery and the diarrhoeal diseases, and sewer air was alleged an important factor in their causation. Both typhus fever and Oriental plague were thought to be spread by means of a vitiated atmosphere. My immediate official predecessor, Dr. Snow, a distinguished sanitarian of the time, considered scarlet fever only slightly contagious, but due to some epidemic influence, meaning thereby some general infection of the atmosphere. The late Dr. Janeway of this city taught me that the old watercourses of New York could be traced by the excess of diphtheria in the houses above them, due to the effluvia from the damp and infected soil. The well-nigh universal confidence in the carbolized sheet before the door and the saucer of chloride of lime in the room, as barriers against contagion, illustrate how much the air has been feared. A great change has taken place within recent years in the attitude of scientific men towards the theory of aerial infection. Many diseases formerly considered air-borne have been shown to be transmitted invariably in other ways, and in others the role of infection by air has been shown to be very much less important than was formerly believed. Some former theories of the mechanism of transmission by means of the air have been Delivered November 1, 1...  
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