[Our bright and fearless contemporary, the Medical World, of March 9th, contained a very important letter to the Editor, which we venture or reprint. The facts and arguments employed with regard to the subcutaneous treatment of diphtheria apply to numerous other diseases as well as. Subcutaneous treatment has become a mania and an obsession to the medical profession and a danger to the public. Editor “H.T.”].
FOR many years we have been led to believe that serum treatment has robbed diphtheria of its terrors, but Dr. Louis Cobbett, in an article in the British Medical Journal (July 22nd, 1933), “expresses his disappointment that diphtheria antitoxin has had such a comparatively small effect in lowering the death-rate from diphtheria during the last forty years.
Similar views have recently been echoed on every side, culminating in the authoritative conclusions of Dr. Friedberger of Berlin, who is quoted in the Lancet (March 14th, 1931) as maintaining that-.
“….. the remarkably favourable results that followed the introduction of antitoxin in the nineties of last century were really due to a natural decline in the severity of the disease. As result of a study of a large series of European and American statistics he had come to the conclusion that the diphtheria curve had been in no way affected by the introduction of antitoxin.
“As regards the active immunization against diphtheria, Friedberger was also convinced that its introduction had not caused any change in the occurrence of epidemics, and that all the statistics to its success, which mainly emanated from American sources, were based on the erroneous that the decline in the incidence of diphtheria was due to immunization, whereas the immunization was being carried out when the disease was already showing a tendency to abate”.
Added to this we have the definite evidence of the failure of the Schick injections to immunize. Dr. Forbes, in his monumental work, admits over 300 cases of failure; the Deutsche Med.Woch. (November 25th, 1932) reported that of 100,000 children immunized, 10 per cent, subsequently contracted diphtheria. Dr. Robertson of Edinburgh, in his Annual Report for 1927, mentioned fifty-eight failures in Schick negative and fully immunized children.
According to the Medical Officer of Health for Bristol (Lancet, November 21st, 1931), forty-four children developed diphtheria after full series of three injection. He commented, “It is disconcerting to find cases of clinical diphtheria occurring in Schick-negative children and at such periods after the course.”.
These are but a few instances.
Neither can any particular mildness be credited to the injection, for Dr. Phillips, writing in the Medical Officer (January 27th, 1934), expresses his bewilderment that in the NON- IMMUNIZED children the cases ran an uncomplicated course; the only death in his series was in the case of IMMUNIZED child, the first to develop the disease after the school had been partly immunized (76 per cent.).
Dr. J.E.R. McDonagh declares that “The whole subject of immunity is build upon an entirely false basis.” and points out that “every infection carried with it the weapons which are ultimately to destroy it”; “their action”, he says, “may be seriously interfered with by the production of man-made milder infections.”.
Moreover, in addition to its uselessness, toxin-antitoxin is a highly dangerous product, and is accompanied by very severe reactions and sometimes by death. One would hardly imagine, to judge from the descriptions circulated by health authorities in this country as to the harmlessness of Schick inoculation, that it had caused a long series of disasters in many parts of the world for the past fifteen years.
As a result of two of these, one in Austria in 1824, the other in Italy in 1933, the use of Schick inoculation was prohibited in the respective countries. But, in spite of all the known dangers, the most intense propaganda in favour of this unscientific and harmful; humbug is being indulged in by public health authorities all over the country, and, I regret to say, by methods which involve a good deal of mis-statement of facts.