ARM-TO-ARM versus CALF-LYMPH VACCINATION.
(APPENDIX to LEPROSY AND VACCINATION by WILLIAM TEBB)
As the relative merits and demerits of animal and arm-to-arm vaccination are being discussed in the Indian press, I would here call attention to a few facts which appear to have escaped the attention of those who are urging the adoption of new compulsory laws in various districts. It is generally admitted that there is a growing discontent with vaccination in all quarters. In England household censuses have been made in nearly one hundred towns and districts, with the result that eighty-seven per cent. of the signatories are opposed to compulsory vaccination and sixty-eight per cent, certify that they do not believe in vaccination at all. In about ninety towns and poor-law unions the acts are a dead letter; and, owing to the sinister results of the practice, in many of our Colonies the authorities have ceased prosecuting vaccine recusants. In India, Sir John Gorst (Times, 17th July, 1891) informed Parliament that compulsory vaccination exists in four districts in Bengal and in 183 municipal cities and towns in different provinces. But the results cannot be considered encouraging even by the most ardent vaccine optimist. The Blue-Books of "Sanitary Measures in India" state the total vaccinations during the years 1886-89 inclusive as follows
The statistical abstract relating to British India gives the smallpox mortality during the same period, viz. :
This increase of small-pox, co-incident with the rapid extension of vaccination, shows that it is a disease governed by causes entirely outside and independent of vaccination. And this opinion is confirmed by the highest authorities. Thus, in a memorandum of the "Army Sanitary Commission," published in the Bombay Government Gazette, Dec. 17th, 1885, the Commissioners say
"The first disease in the listnamely, small-pox, which yielded an increase of 1369 deaths, or nearly sixteen-fold that of the previous years death-rate-had assumed an epidemic state in nearly all the districts of the city; yet Bombay has an effective vaccination service, with the use of calf-lymph." In vol. xviii. of "Sanitary Measures in India," page 203, in reference to the smallpox epidemic of 1884, it is stated :" We are thus brought face to face with the fact that, notwithstanding the existence of an active vaccination service, small-pox swept over the provinces just as if there had been none." In the same volume, referring to Madras, the Commissioners -say:" No less than seventy-four per cent. of the small-pox deaths in Madras town occurred among children under three years of age." In Punjab, "the Compulsory Act was in force in the Amritsar municipality, but here the deaths from small-pox were far more numerous than in any other town of the province." In vol. xix., page 113, is the following candid admission :" Ten years statistics afford no evidence that vaccination affects the usual epidemic course of the disease, and hence-this fact, in the face of the extensive vaccination work of the present and past years, appears to lead to the conclusion that in its epidemic form small-pox must be met by improving the sanitary condition of the people."
On page to of the Report on the Annual Returns of the Civil Hospitals and Dispensaries in Madras for 1888, under the head of Canara, South, I find that while vaccination is making satisfactory progress, the number of vaccinations having increased by 8053 cases, yet "small-pox was more prevalent than usual in the district,. and was epidemic in the town of Mangalore." On pp. 9 and to,. under, the head of Arcot, North, it is stated that small-pox was. prevalent, and that vaccination "was performed in a careless and perfunctory manner." This careless performance of the Jennerian rite is the rule in our Crown Colonies where leprosy is prevalent, as I have found by personal investigation.
According to Sir Edwin Chadwick, Dr. B. W. Richardson, and all other sanitarians of repute, small-pox is a disease due to insanitary conditions, impure water, bad drainage, dirty living,. and particularly to overcrowding; and, instead of removing these conditions, the Governments of India during the past thirty years have been spending their, energies, and large sums of money, in extending vaccination. Now that the arm-to-arm system has been thoroughly discredited and shown to be futile as a preventive of small-pox and fertile as a disseminator of eczema, syphilis, and leprosy, the cry of the official vaccinator is not the sensible one of "do away with vaccination," but, let us change front and resort to the calf, sheep, buffalo, donkey, or to lanoline lymphor anything,. rather than confess that the Jennerian system is a humiliating failure. It is well known that animal lymph has been a fruitful cause of the spread of disease in Europe. On June 17, 1885, an official re-vaccination with "re-generated" lymph at the Island of Rügen, North Germany, caused an infection of a loathsome eruptive skin disease (Impetigo Contagiosa) of 320 children and adults. The details of this sinister affair, from Dr. Koehier, of the Imperial Medical Department, are in my possession, and have been brought before the Royal Commission on Vaccination now sitting. This disaster was due to the use of virus obtained from the Government calf-lymph establishment, Stettin. In December, 1891, when in Launceston, Tasmania, I learnt that from 200 to 300 children and adults had been afflicted with ulcerative swellings and acute septicoemia, caused through animal vaccination in 1887, .and that the law in that colony had been suspended. Animal vaccination has no claim to public attention by reason either of its :safety or of its novelty. Mr. Farn, the Government Inspector of vaccine lymph, has declared before the Royal Vaccination Cormmission that he cannot tell by microscopic examination whether lymph is pure or not; and Dr. Robert Cory says that the admixture of lymph with blood, which occurs in the majority of-cases, does not prevent its being used.
Perhaps the most remarkable official pronouncement on this-subject ever made in England is that of the late President of the Local Government Board, during the debate in Parliament on Supply, July 22nd, 1887, at which the writer was present. The object of the declaration was to allay public anxiety as to the safety of the lymph supplied by the Government. Mr. Ritchie, in the course of his speech, said :" The honourable member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur OConnor) said something about lymph. He said, I think, that it was the virus of modified small-pox. I cannot agree with the honourable member in his definition as to that point. I am informed that no lymph which is used for vaccination of any kind has ever, within the memory of man, passed through the human body. Dr. Jenners first lymph was derived from an animal source; and the lymph which is now sent out is calf-lymph. None of the lymph, I sayat all events in historic timeshas passed through the human body; therefore I cannot think that the honourable gentleman is in any way justified in calling the lymph modified small-pox."
Mr. Arthur OConnor :" What is it, then?"
Mr. Ritchie :" I am afraid I am not qualified to give the honourable gentleman a medical opinion of what lymph is. I have told him whence it is derived, and he will see there is no ground for calling it modified small-pox."Hansards Debates, 3rd Series, vol. 317, p. 1803. July 22nd, 1887.
The chief of the Public Health Department was clearly not aware that until a comparatively recent period arm-to-arm vaccination was practically the only method in vogue; and at the time Mr. Ritchies declaration was made, to the effect that none of the lymph in use had passed through the human body, at least three-fourths of the lymph in use in the United Kingdom was the variety known as arm-to-arm vaccination virus.