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Blood-Poisoning

blood, absorption, poisoning and bacteria

BLOOD-POISONING (SEPT/EMIA).—A general systemic poisoning, caused by the absorption into the circulation of the poisonous. products of certain bacteria. It may be complicated by the presence in the blood of the micro organisms themselves. The symptoms comprise a high temperature, a feeling of weakness and fatigue, a pyTmic coma or delirium, and repeated chills. Some of these cases are rapidly fatal. There is a popular concep tion that many diseases are connected with a previous attack of blood poisoning ; and simple inflammation, with redness of the surrounding skin and swelling of the affected limb, is often regarded as a like condition. This conception is fallacious, for it is essential that the bacteria or their poisonous products gain entrance into the bloodstream before one can properly speak of blood-poisoning, or septmmia. The first intimation :of this is usually a severe chill. The only way in which this condition may be avoided is by early and appropriate treatment of ,every septic inflammation ; where pus is present it should be removed as soon as possible by proper incisions, in order to prevent the absorption by the blood of the toxic sub stances.

Some of the worst cases of septmia follow childbirth. In these instances lack of cleanliness results in the infection of the wounded surfaces of the uterus ; and absorption of toxins or bacteria, or of both, bring about puer peral fever. The most important septemia-causing micro-organisms are

the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus pyogenes (wrens. Septremia is a factor also in many cases of typhoid fever, pneumonia, and syphilis. An entirely different type of blood-poisoning is found following the use of certain drugs. These remedies are for the most 'part examples of modern synthetics, in which the carbolic-acid nucleus forms an integral part. When taken in large doses they cause certain changes in the blood whereby its oxidative functions are interfered with, either by a fixation of the haemoglobin action or by a destruction of the blood-corpuscles themselves. Such drugs as acetanilid (an important ingredient in many headache-cures), antipyrin, sulphonal, etc., may cause poisoning of the blood by rendering its oxidation impossible or difficult. As a result of the action of certain blood-poisons, such as rattlesnake venom, the blood-cells are destroyed. See POISONINt, It is of interest to note that Oliver Wendell Holmes was the first to teach the infectious nature of puerperal septxmia.

BLOOD-VESSELS.—Sce INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS (pp. 154-157). BLUES.—See Ns.\ ; OBSESSIONS.