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PHTHISIS IN THE COLONIES.

* Some very interesting information on the subject of the varying degrees of prevalence m the several colonies of Australasia of that justly dreaded disease consumption of the longs is given m an able paper on " Australian Mortality " read before the Australian Medical Congress by Dr. McLaurin, President of the Board of Health of New South Wales. From this it appears that while dwellers m the rural districts of the colonies enjoy, as contrasted with the inhabitants of old world countries, a comparative immunity from phthisical affections, m the large cities such as Melbourne and Sydney the presence of like conditions — overcrowd- | ing and defective sanitary arrangements —is producing like effects. Comparing colony with colony, Western Australia is shown to have the lowest death-rate as regards pulmonary consumption, the figures being the very low average of 68 21 per J 00,000 living. But it is pointed out that the numbers involved are probably " too small to form an accurate standard ; especially as the return is given for only one year. If then we leave Western Australia out, New Zealand stands first as the most healthful colony m this respect, the deaths from consumption m this colony (taking the figures for 1885) being 89-65 per 100,000, the other colonies standing as follows m ascending order, viz :— bouth Australia, 96 01 ; Tasmania, 108 38 ; New South WaleSj 115*71 ; Victoria, 141*94 ; Queensland, 186*28. These are the figures for the colonies as a whole, but it is to be noted I that while the rate for Melbourne city I and suburbs reaches the high proportion of 239 16 per 100,000, that for Sydnej city 222*37, and that for Sydnej I suburban districts 197*46, the rate foi I the country districts of Victoria falls tc I 88 62, and that for the country districts I of New South Wales to 75*77, -showing I that, feydney and suburbs excepted, th( I last named colony is the freest of all the I colonies of phthisical disease, While I this, however, is the showing of th( I figures before us, it is to be noted thai m the case of New Zealand the rate o deaths for the principal towns is noi given separately from the rest of th( colony, and if this omission wer< supplied, we conclude that it would be shown that the country digtricts of New Zealand are still less subject to consumptive disease than the country districts of New bouth Wales. .Referring to the facts brought out by the figures which he has compiled, Dr McLaurin finds " that the rural parts at least of Australia occupy a position with respect to this disease which will compare very favorably with most other countries in ' the globe, Even Queensland, which is much the worst of our colonies as a whole, would stand very well among European countries, being practically the same as Switzerland, m which the death-rate from phthisis is very low for Europe, and to some parts of which phthisical patients are occasionally sent by medical advice. And the more favored colonies (at all events m the country parts) will compare favorably with the rural portions of north-west Africa, which have long been celebrated for comparative immunity from phthisjs." He &dds, however, that "it is but right to bear m mind, on the other hand, that the urban portions of Australia possess no such immunity, and that Melbourne and Sydney show a very considerable proportion of phthisical deaths — the former city, with its suburbs, showing 2*39 deaths per 1000 persons living, a proportion which, according to Hirsch, is nearly equal to that of many European cities, afthough, of pour se t jnuch below many German and Austrian towns, m which phthisis seems to assume the proportions of a real plague." And he goes on to say :— " It is useless to shut our eyes to the fact that consumption has got a footing among us, and that it is now one of our most important causes of death. How it is to bo checked m its advances, and, if possible, lessened m its prevalence, are among the most important sanitary problems of the day." Without attempting to go exhaustively into the question of the precautionary, preventive, or remedial measures which should be taken, the essayist draws attention to two matters, viz. :— " Ist, that phthisis is essentially a disease of towns, especially of great towns, and that, consequently, improvement of the hygienic conditions of great towns, more especially \n ventilation ? free space, and, not least, m good morals, will necessarily tend to the diminution of the phthisical death*rate ; 2nd, tfre discoveries of the last few years with respect to the bacterial origin of phthisis ought surely to awaken the public from the apathy with which they continue to consume the flesh of tuberculous oxen and the milk of tuberculous cows." He says " that these tuberculous animals do present the characteristic bacilli of tubercle there is no doubt," and he asserts that " there is a good deal of trafficking m tuberculous cattle — at least, m New South Wales — whether for slaughtering or dairy purposes." He is of opinion that "one measure which is most urgently required m that colony is a law rendering penal all trafficking m such diseased animals for auy purpose whatsoever," and believes that " such a law would be of great service m preventing the spread of consumption. It is possible that a like danger may exist, even if m less degree, m the other colonies of the group, and the matter is one which certainly deserves careful investigation and consideration. As showing the beneficial effect of the careful inspection of meat, and of the rejection of all showing the slightest blemish, Dr MrLaurin pito? the very low mortality of Jews from phthisis, quoting the Rev. A, B. Davis, the learned and much respected Jewish Clergyman of Sydney, who states that m the Jewish population of New South Wales numbering 4000, he can only call to mind one death from phthisis m three years, and who says, referring to the care exercised with regard to meat by his people, " the slightest speck on the lungs (which are blown out to their full extent) or blemish of any kind would be sufficient jto pondemn the carcase, and the butoher accredited by the Jewish community would not be permitted to dispose of it." Were like care exercised by the Gentile population, it is reasonable to assume that like results would follow, and it is somewhat startling to find what would be tho saving of ljfe jn ope colony *)lone (N.8.W.), if the Jewish average were I maintained for the whole populatipn. Thus m 1885,, 1095 persons died off coppumptionm New sQu.th Wales, befog*

at tbe rate of 115 51 for each 100,000 of tbe population. If the Jewish rate had been general only 79 would have died, being a saving of over 1000 lives m one year."

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890124.2.31

Bibliographic details

PHTHISIS IN THE COLONIES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2045, 24 January 1889

Word Count
1,153

PHTHISIS IN THE COLONIES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2045, 24 January 1889

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