DISEASES OF WAR
GUARDING THE SOLDIER'S HEALTH. Some of the special dangers to health to which the soldiers are exposed in the campaign were dealt with in his third Chadwick lecture at the Royal Society of Arts by Dr. F. Jl._ Sandwith, Gresliam Professor of Medicine. He spoke of the freedom of our troops from cholera, due to excellent, propliylactio measures, and gave the latest figui'es of typhoid as follow:—Of the first 421 cases among British troops 305 were in men who had not been inoculated. There had been 35 deaths, 34 of whom had not been inoculated within two years. There had been only one death among inoculated patients, and that man had been inoculated only once. The sick-fate among the British troops at the front was now 3 per cent., and even lower among the Indians. Tetanus, of which there were many cases in the early months of the war, wa6 always .prevalent among the civilian population in the Aisne region, and in the conditions of trench warfare the danger was immediately increased. When the British Army went forward into the sand dunes of Belgium tetanus at once diminished. Tetanus was duo to a bacillus present in cattle manure and disseminated in the soil, and the organism was often introduced into the wound at the time of injury, and frequently the disease had gone too far for cure before it could be detected; Brilliant results had been obtained front tke injection of tetanus anti-toxin, it having been the custom since November to inject all wounds at once in the field hospitals. One of the latest improvements in hygiene at the war was the supplying to every soldier of a dressing of iodine in a 6mall ampul such as was carried by the French soldier in his kit. . This was due to a generous gift from two anonymous donors. Dr. S'andwith described modern measures taken to prevent gangrene, which was also a disease caused by infection from the soil. Open-air treatment of gangrene cases had produced excellent results in France. The belief that draughts, damp air, and cold can produce disease was rapidly dying out, and nothing could prove this better than the excellent health of our troops in • camp and trenches. Patients suffering from any. thing from wounds to pneumonia were found to gain health more quickly and surely in the open air than in a place from which air was excluded. It was likely that open-air treatment would be extended ehortly in France in other directions.
We had not yet found sufficient preventive measures against frostbite, which ivas a common cause of gangrene. He suggested as a means of preventing suffering from the damp cold in the trenches rubbing the body regularly with grease. Dr. Sandwith spoke graphically of the serious results of the continuous nerve-strain imposed on officers and men, and said that the first hatch of wounded who reached hospital in London in September wore so utterly exhausted that all that could be done for them at first was to put them to bed. Many slept coninuously for 30 hours and showed afterwards of severe nerve strain, such as illusions, and this in spite of their cheeriness and courage. Ho recommended, the Weir Mitchell rest-cure as the surest way of restoring to health soldiers suffering from nervous exhaustion.
He laid stress on the importance of educating the soldiers to guard themselves by every means against body vermin, a source of great suffering in the trenches—not only the cause of horrible irritation but also the carriers of typhus, relapsing fevers, and other infectious diseases which attack en army 111 toe field. The clothes of soldiers who had not been able to change for week 6 were often alive with vermin, which wero a pest in every campaign. Jt was specially important to guard against vermin now that typhus was prevalent among the Germans. Vermin had infested every army in the field, including the South African campaign, a ? j"t7 ' n rec ®"t times was it understood that vermin carricd the germs of •u, aS <i' louse," 6aid Dr. Sandwith, is a menace to our victory."
Permanent link to this item
DISEASES OF WAR, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2418, 25 March 1915
DISEASES OF WAR Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2418, 25 March 1915
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.