[Extracted chapter 93 & 94] LEICESTER: SANITATION versus VACCINATION BY J.T. BIGGS J.P.
93: Vaccination and Leprosy.
The comprehensive and eminently able work on the "Recrudescence of Leprosy and its Causation" (Swan, Sonnenschein & Co., London, 1893), by Mr. William Tebb , F.R.G.S. (whose indefatigable labours in all humanitarian causes are widely known and appreciated), has shown the danger to be apprehended from vaccination in a hitherto almost unsuspected and unexplored field. Its immense gravity and importance as a contribution to the general indictment of vaccination is of itself sufficient apology, if any is needed, for including here a series of extracts from Mr. Tebb's monumental work. Mr. Tebb's researches into this subject are world-wide, and have been conducted on the spot.
Amongst the introductory quotations given are the following :—" Leprosy is, perhaps, the most terrible disease that afflicts the human race, it is hideously disfiguring, destructive to the tissues and organs in an unusual degree, and is hopelessly incurable."—"British Medical Journal," 19th November, 1887.
" There is no known remedy for the disease (leprosy). Prevention can alone cope with it."— "Lancet," 27th April, 1889.
" The fact that the leprosy may be inoculated, I consider to be proved as much as any fact " in medical science."—Dr. R. Hall Bakewell, Physician to the Leper Asylum, Trinidad.
Mr. Tebb obtained evidence from the West Indies, British Guiana, Venezuela, California, the Sandwich Islands, Ceylon, Egypt, New Zealand, Cape Colony and Natal in South Africa, and most of the Colonies in Australia, and put himself in communication with superintendents of leper asylums and leading dermatologists in all other countries where leprosy is endemic.
He states that
"the most distinguished names in the profession have testified to vaccination being the certain vehicle for the dissemination of leprosy. These names include Sir Erasmus Wilson (sometimes called the father of dermatologists) ; Dr. John D. Hillis ; Dr. Liveing ; Sir Ranald Martin ; Professor W. T. Gairdner ; Dr. Tilbury Fox ; Dr. Gavin Milroy ; Dr. R. Hall Bakewell, formerly Physician to the Leper Asylum, Trinidad ; Dr. A. S. Black, of Trinidad; Dr. Edward Arning ; Dr. Walter M. Gibson, late President of the Honolulu Board of Health ; Professor H. G. Piffard, New York ; Dr. A. M. Brown, London; Dr. Frances Hoggan; Dr. Blanc, Professor of Dermatology, University of New Orleans; Dr. Bechtinger, of Rio ; Professor Montgomery, of California ; Dr. Sidney Bourne Swift, late Medical Director, Leper Settlement, Molokai, Hawaii; Dr. P. Hellat, St. Petersburg ; Professor Henri Leloir, Lille; Dr. Mouritz ; Surgeon Brunt; Dr. John Freeland, Government Medical Officer, Antigua; Dr. S. P. Impey, Superintendent Leper Asylum, Robben Island, Cape Colony ; and many others. On the subject of leprosy there are no higher authorities." pages 18 and 19.)
" Some idea of its nature may be gathered from the following description of leprosy, which may well excite the sympathy of the philanthropist. It will be found in a recent work on leprosy by Dr. Thin, pages 99-100. It is translated from Leloir, an eminent French authority on leprosy, and refers to the tubercular variety of the disease.
'If the patient,' he remarks, 'does not die of some internal disorder or special complication, the unhappy leper becomes a terrible object to look on. The deformed leonine face is covered with tubercles, ulcers, cicatrices, and crusts. His sunken, disfigured nose is reduced to a stump. His respiration is wheezing and difficult; a sanious, stinking fluid, which thickens into crusts, pours from his nostrils. The nasal mucous membrane is completely covered with ulcerations. A part of the cartilaginous and bony framework is carious. The mouth, throat, and larynx are mutilated, deformed, and covered with ulcerated tubercles. The patient breathes with the greatest difficulty. He is threatened with frequent fits of suffocation, which interrupt his sleep. He has lost his voice, his eyes are destroyed, and not only his sight but his sense of smell and taste have completely gone. Of the five senses, hearing alone is usually preserved. In consequence of the great alterations in the skin of the limbs, which are covered with ulcerated tubercles, crusts, and cicatrices, the pachydermic state of skin which gives the limbs the appearance of elephantiasis, and of the lesions of the peripheral nerves which are present at this time, and by which occasionally the symptoms of nerve leprosy are combined with those of tubercular leprosy, the sense of touch is abolished. The patient suffers excruciating pains in the limbs, and even in the face, whilst the ravages of the disease in his legs render walking difficult and even impossible. From the hypertrophied inguinal and cervical glands pus flows abundantly from fistulous openings. In certain cases the abdomen is increased in size on account of the liver, spleen, and mesenteric glands being involved. With these visceral lesions the appetite is irregular or lost. There are pains in the stomach, diarrhoea, bronchial pulmonary lesions, intermittent febrile attacks, and a hectic state. The peculiar smell, recalling that of the dissecting room, mixed with the odour of goose's feathers, or of a fresh corpse, is indicated, but badly described, by the authors of the Middle Ages, who compared it to that of a male goat.'" (Pages 10, 11, and 12.)
The Leprosy Investigation Committee.
By reason of the reports of the serious increase of leprosy in various countries, and the public interest excited by the self-sacrificing labours and death of Father Damien, an influential Committee was convened for the purpose of investigating the causes of this recrudescence, the first meeting being held on the 17th June, 1889, at Marlborough House, under the presidency of the Prince of Wales.
Mr. Tebb gives numerous quotations from the Committee's reports, and also instances of the transmission of leprosy, from India, Cape Colony, Madeira, Russia, and Norway. Amongst these, Dr. Alexander Abercromby, of Cape Colony, writing from Capetown, 20th April, 1892, says that,
"If a drop of blood gets mixed with the vaccine lymph in the operation of vaccination, then the disease (leprosy) may be transmitted in this way, but he is of opinion that, without the blood, there is no danger." (Page 214.)
Mr. Tebb observes :—
" So far as the transference of syphilis and other deadly diseases is concerned, we know that this can be done with lymph of unimpeachable quality and without admixture of blood." (Page 214.)
Since this was written, medical testimony has proved unquestionably that all lymph contains the corpuscles of blood.
At a meeting of the Bombay Legislative Council (reported in the " Times of India," 24th February, 1892), held for the second reading of the Bombay Compulsory Vaccination Bill, the Honourable Mr. Javerilal U. Yajnick quoted from a letter of Dr. Bahadurjee, "an able and experienced medical gentleman," who wrote :—
" Arm-to-arm vaccination affords a ready means for propagating such inherited constitutional taints as those of syphilis and leprosy. . . . Syphilis, as betrayed in obtrusive signs, is not difficult to recognise, but when concealed, as is more often the case, it is by no means easy to detect it. In the case of leprosy, it is still worse. There is no such thing as a leper child or infant. The leper heir does not put on its inherited exterior till youth is reached. And it is by no means possible by any close observation or examination of a child to say that it is free from the leprous taint."
The " Lancet," of 22nd October, 1910 (page 1231), gives particulars of a case, in which a boy, aged fourteen, was attacked by leprosy, in South Africa, as a result of the application to a wound of tobacco which had been chewed by a native, who, it afterwards transpired, was suffering from leprosy. The boy developed the disease, and died from it in about eleven years after the inoculation.
The " Madras Times," 18th May, 1892, says :—
Every effort is probably made to obtain pure and healthy lymph, but no guarantee can be provided against the presence of the germs of the disease in the lymph used for purposes of vaccination." (Page 363.)
Mrs. M. A. Handley's interesting book on 'Roughing it in Southern India,' supplies a significant example of the risks attending the use of "lymph." An outbreak of small-pox occurred in the Wynard district, and the Government issued orders for everyone to be vaccinated. The natives were forced into compounds ready for the operation. Mrs. Handley says :—
" We, too; had heard hideous stories of disease contracted through tainted
lymph, but we were assured that all precautions had been taken, and
that the vaccine was of the purest, for the children and calves from which it
was produced had been under medical observation. All that we had to take on
trust. In any case, there was no escape, and the fateful moment had arrived. F.
offered himself first, as an encouragement to the shrinking creatures around ;
in another few minutes the doctor would have begun and finished with him. My
turn would have come next, I suppose, then that of the household servants, and
so on, till the entire compoundful of people had been rendered immune from
small-pox, at any rate, had not a totally unexpected interruption now occurred.
First a sound of galloping hoofs approaching broke upon the oars of the
assembled people, and in another moment a couple of horsemen showed themselves
tearing up the hill, frantically waving papers in their right hands. As they
neared, they were seen to be white with dust, and their faces livid and
colourless, so hard had they ridden in order to be in time to to stop the
vaccination! Their errand was soon told. It had been discovered that the
vaccine lymph about to be used had come from the most leprous village in
Southern India! The message was delivered just in time—not an instant to spare ;
an accident to man or horse, an extra drink of water on the road—the veriest
trifle—and some of us would have been surely doomed to the most awful fate on
CHAPTER 94: Inoculation Experiments—Tuberculin and Leprosy.
"In an article on 'Koch's Tuberculin in Leprosy,' Dr. P. Ferrari gives the
conclusions of several observers who have experimented with the tuberculin in
leprosy. Dr. Danielssen (of Norway) considers (1) that tuberculin in leprosy
gives general and local reactions, the former generally coming on four to six
hours after the first injection, but sometimes in twelve hours, and rarely in
two or three days—the local reaction is more tardy; (2) that unfavourable
consequences ensue to the patient, the disease being aggravated, and that the
reactions have some similarity to those produced by the preparations of iodine
in lepers ; (3) that the lymph does not kill the bacilli, but seems instead to
give them nutriment and favours their reproduction and circulation in the blood;
(4) that when immunity to the remedy is established, the disease is in no way
arrested, nor the bacilli destroyed.
" Dr. Ferrari has himself come to the conclusion, from the consideration of the above cases and of those of other observers, that tuberculin exhibits no direct useful action on the leper. As in tuberculosis, it may act on the torpid condition of the tissue, not so much by any specific effect as on account of the small resistance of the diseased tissue. He remarks particularly on the outburst of new tubercles during the paroxysms of fever."—" Journal of the Leprosy Investigation Committee," No. 4, December, 1891, pages 46 and 47. (Pages 339 and 340.)
Dr. Julius Goldschmidt, Medical Superintendent, Lazzaretto Hospital, Madeira, who has made the pathology and treatment of leprosy a special subject of study, sent a communication to the Leprosy Investigation Committee (" Journal," December, 1891), in which he refers to his inoculative experiments with tuberculin and other drugs, and says :—
"As far back as eleven years, I tried to inoculate the anaesthetic form on the tubercular one, without success."
Mr. Tebb ventured to point out to Dr. Goldschmidt
how medical testimony showed that, while syphilis and leprosy were difficult to inoculate direct from the disease to those free from these diseases, the evidence that these and other diseases were readily inoculable by means of an intermediary host such as vaccine virus was now overwhelming." (Pages 373 and 374.)
The "Lancet," of 16th April, 1892, had a leading article on the results of the tuberculin treatment of leprosy. Referring to the experiments of Dr. Danielssen (of Norway), it says: —
"Unfortunately the conclusion drawn was that tuberculin aggravated the disease considerably, and, by setting free the bacilli, started fresh foci of the disease, and made the whole process more active. As in lupus and phthisis, the patients became tolerant of the tuberculin after a time ; but the disease progressed all the same, and fresh symptoms were frequently excited ; many also of the old lesions became red and sensitive. In the anaesthetic form the patches enlarged, became redder and more sensitive, and now patches appeared."
Other instances are given, and in one the Lancet" says :—
" Scores of new tubercles came out all over the body. . . . The above cases do not exhaust the list of experiments, but they are sufficient to show that tuberculin is very uncertain in its immediate effects on leprosy." (Pages 344 and 345.)
Mr. Tebb visited a Leper Hospital, and saw the fashionable inoculative experimental treatment. He says:-
"The poor creatures were brought into the surgery one after another ; some brave, and others with a timid, appealing look in their eyes. To enable them to bear the pain of the hypodermic syringe, thrust by the operating physician deep into the flesh, they had a handkerchief between the teeth, while held by the hospital nurse or attendant. The puncture of the instrument is usually the least painful part of the experimental process. The treatment, which is often continued for months, produces sickness, acute headaches, and fever. The rage for experimental research has long since passed the bounds of decent humanity." (Page 346.)
In Mr. Tebb's summary of conclusions, the following may be noted here ;—
" That leprosy has greatly increased during the last half-century, and that it is prevalent in many places where it was formerly unknown."
" That on one point there is much agreement and hardly any dissent—namely, the inoculability of leprosy—and that the view of leprosy as an inoculable disease, while it is most clear to those who take the malady to be due to a bacillus, is older than the bacteriological evidence, and is not dependent thereon."
" That the increase of leprosy in the Sandwich Islands, the West Indies, the United States of Columbia, British Guiana, South Africa, and New Caledonia has followed pari passu with the introduction and extension of vaccination, which in nearly all these places, without previous inquiry or demand from the inhabitants, has been made compulsory."
" That as leprosy is a disease of slow incubation, often taking years to declare itself, and in its incipient stages can be detected only by practitioners of large experience, it follows that, in countries where leprosy exists, there is great danger of extending the disease by arm-to-arm vaccination."
" That leprosy being one of the most loathsome diseases to which the human race is subject, and being practically incurable, it behoves all interested in the public well-being to do their best to prevent its diffusion, and, as a means thereto, to discourage the practice of vaccination on that ground, if on no other." (Pages 350-352.)
Truly the perusal of Mr. Tebb's grail work on " Leprosy and Vaccination " recalls the well-known saying of Burns, "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn." Those who wish to know more about this aspect of the case against vaccination, would do well to obtain a copy of the book referred to, and thus draw direct from the fountain head.