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The Drug Treatment of Consumption

disease, injection, tubercle, organism, oil and result


Antiseptic Treatment. — Consumption being an infection it is natural to seek for some remedy which will destroy the organism in the tissues of the lung. To do this without injury to the patient is the difficulty. It is attempted in the main in two ways, first by medicines given by the mouth, and second by inhalations or sprays, or direct injection into the air-passages. Mercury, iodine, iodoform, ehinosol, carbolic acid, arsenic, have all been administered, and many others, for this pur pose. The remedy, however, that has proved most useful is beechwood creasote. It may be given in capsule, each containing 1 minim, the number taken being gradually increased from 1 after each meal till 12 or 20 are taken daily, as the stomach bears them. It is given easily in oil, cod-liver oil by preference, 5 drops to each tea-spoonful, and large doses may be borne in this way. Ousiacol, a derivative of cremate, is better borne by the stomach. It is a tasteless powder, may be taken in milk, 3 to 8 grains, four, increased to six, times a day. The use of inhalations, sprays, atomizers, &c., is fully discussed on p. 416, Vol. II.

The use of lime preparations and cod-liver oil is considered on pp. 410, 411, Vol. I F.

the discoverer of the tubercle bacillus, announced, in 1890, the dis covery of a method of curing the disease by inoculation. The idea involved in inoculation is easy to understand, as soon as consumption is admitted to be an infection. Few persons take the same infectious disease a second time. This is due to the fact that the disease has produced some change in the blood or tissues that hinders them from being suitable for further growth of the organism of the disease. Probably this result is due to products of the organism. The organism, that is to say, by its own growth in blood or tissues, produces sub stances inimical to its own continuance, and so its further growth is cut short. Koch, there

fore, grew tubercle in pure culture, and made an extract of this, the organisms themselves being removed. This extract was called tuber culin. Koch believed that this substance, in jected into a person in the early stage of the disease, arrested the further development of it, and cured the disease, while advanced cases, though not cured, were benefited by it. The continued use of the substances has not yielded the anticipated benefits.

One noteworthy result, however, was ob tained. The injection of tuberculin into per fectly healthy persons produces little or no result. But if the person has tubercle any where in the body, the injection is followed by fever, pain in the limbs, and great general dis turbance. This reaction lasts twelve to fifteen hours, beginning a few hours after the injec tion. The injection undoubtedly causes changes in any tubercular tissue in the body, hence the reaction, but it has not been found to lead to cure. Tuberculin, however, may be used as a test for the presence of tubercle, and in a doubtful case its use will aid in determining the true nature of the affection. This is of limited utility in man. In cattle the same effects are produced, so that tuberculin has become increasingly useful to detect the pre sence of tubercular disease in cattle.

Behring's " Cure sensa tion was occasioned at the " International Con gress on Tuberculosis", held in Paris in 1905, by the announcement made by Prof. E. von Behring, of Marburg, that he believed he had discovered a method of producing immunity towards tubercle. It was Behring who dis covered the method of treating diphtheria by the injection of antitoxin (see p. 539). The true nature of the curative principle is not yet to be announced. So far its application has been only in the laboratory, and to animals; and it will be yet a long time before its value for man can be determined.