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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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Health Notes

Edited by H. Laing Gordon, M.D.
Volume 10, 1899, pg. 124


By the meeting held at Marlborough House on Dec. 20th, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales has been the means of bringing the prevention of tuberculosis question into public notice earlier than seemed probable when the January Notes were written. This is a matter for congratulation to everyone.


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It is but logical to check the disease at its sources before attempting to prevent its spread from one individual to another. Sanitaria for consumptives are excellent curative measures, but their preventive effect must remain insignificant until a pure milk and meat supply has been established. It is hoped the "Association for the Prevention of Consumption and other forms of Tuberculosis" will justify the supposition that its intentions are conveyed in its ponderous title, and will not rest until this reform has been accomplished by the State.


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Two months ago I addressed a circular-letter to about twenty-five dairy-owners in my own district, drawing their attention to the connection between tuberculosis in cows and the human being, and asked whether they took any precautions. Favourable replies were hardly to be expected. But such stimulative pinprick enquiries show the cowkeeper that there is a demand, and that there may therefore very well be a supply of non-tuberculous milk. I received, in fact, practically a unanimous "No."


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But the firstfruits of the Prince of Wales's public-spirited action is seen in the circular of at least one large dairy company, which advertises nursery milk (why "nursery" only?) guaranteed to be from cows tested and found to be free from tuberculosis. This is all very well for those who are able to pay the extra amount demanded. But humanity requires that pure milk shall not be a luxury. The tubercle bacilli find their most agreeable breeding-place amongst the poorer classes in our populous districts. It is, therefore, necessary to prevent the bacilli from gaining access to these districts; milk free from tubercular infection ought to be within the reach of all.


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The dairy-owners are, indeed, being considered now by some persons almost as tenderly as the planters were considered by one section of the community when the proposal to abolish slavery was made. In the end, of course, slavery was abolished, and some compensation paid to the owners. If the law makes it a punishable offence to supply milk from tuberculous cows, doubtless compensation might be awarded to the owners of cows which are found to be unfit to supply milk or to form food. But we are sadly in need of a William Wilberforce or a Lord Ashley to carry through the reform.


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There is indeed a great and gratifying public desire to learn how to prevent disease. There are nowadays few who think it necessary that children should go through a series of certain well-known diseases. It is recognised that many diseases--not only those which are infectious--are preventable. But to lay down the law as to how diseases are to be prevented is another matter. For example--it is easy to urge that sunlight and fresh air are the best household antiseptics. But in many cases the builder has so placed and constructed our houses for his own purposes that the aspect is almost sunless, and open windows means abominable draughts.


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Then, again, an important department of the house from the health point of view is frequently placed in any odd corner left over after the chief rooms have been planned. I mean the larder. I have seen a row of suburban villas, each with the larder exposed to the southern sun, with the soil-pipe running through it, and with the dust bin placed close to the window.


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Stored food may, of course, be contaminated from accumulations of domestic filth. Vegetable and animal refuse from the kitchen should never be thrown into the dust-bin to rot and breed corruption to the world--such matter is easily and properly disposed of on the kitchen fire. But emanations rising from the soil may also pervade the larder, especially one that is underground or placed in a dark corner without free access of air. A larder of this kind may have a musty smell like that associated with a wine cellar, but not so pleasant. Serious infantile disease may be caused by milk, etc., affected by storage in such an improper larder.


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The ideal larder is the one place in the house where draughts should be constant, and it is protected from all sources of contamination as well as from direct summer sunlight. Imperfectly arranged larders may often be improved by substituting perforated zinc for the glass of the window, adding iron bars and outside shutters, and boring plenty of holes in the door. It is scarcely necessary to add that soap and the scrubbing brush--not chemical antiseptics--are frequent necessities.