URGES IMPORTANCE OF FREQUENT CLEANSING OF BODY WITH SOAP AND WATER AS PROTECTION AGAINST INFECTIOUS DISEASES.
The part played by microbes in causing sickness is less today tan in former years when such cleansing agents as soaps were not available, says Dr. H. L. Rockwood, Commissioner of Health of Cleveland, Ohio, in an exclusive statement to the National Household Service of the Procter and Gamble Company.
“The small microscopic forms of plant life, known as bacteria, exist in countless numbers and certain species only of these small invisible forms of plant life are the sources of disease. In order to produce illness in human beings they must first gain entrance to the body and in their growth after such infections they produce poisons oftentimes sufficient to result fatally. Before the era of soap, epidemics swept all inhabited areas and the death toll due to epidemic diseases caused by bacteria was many times greater than at present.
“Before dangerous bacteria can create diseases they must enter the body and usually entrance is made through the nose and throat. When the hands of the individual are soiled and bear upon their surfaces these bacteria it is quite possible ad indeed commonly happens for infection through the nose or throat to occur by the transfer from the hands to the food, food utensils or in some other way by which these disease-causing bacteria enter the mouth or nose. It is easy to see how hands may become the bearers of dangerous bacteria and of course in city life there is more danger of contaminated hands than in sparsely inhabited regions such as rural districts.
“The bacteria which cause disease in human beings do no usually thrive outside of the body of men or animals. The common handling of articles such as doorknobs, street car straps, telephone receivers, and in fact any common use of materials by which hands of many individuals come in contact with the same surface in rapid succession bears with it potential possibilities of transfer in infectious bacteria from one persons hands to those of another.
In a similar way a custom common to the American public, that of hand-shaking, bears with it the same possibilities. In the use of dishes in restaurants or often in the same family, if among those who use them are infected individuals bearing within the mouth microbes capable of causing diseases, the dishes so used, and particularly knives, forks and spoons, become potential bearers of dangerous bacteria.
“The remedy or the protection against the transfer from such media of infectious bacteria is cleanliness. To remove bacterial forms of life by cleansing, the use of soap has furnished one of our best modern agents for preventing infectious diseases and the more frequent surfaces are cleansed with soap and water, whether such surfaces be those of the hands of of dishes or of doorknobs, the less likely do infectious diseases occur from such sources.
While these agents were unknown to the middle ages for common use, various infectious diseases swept modern Europe almost at will. The black death, plague, and other infections were commonly present. Today in the humblest of homes means of preventing diseases are present which royalty was denied centuries gone by. It is doubtful if Queen Elizabeth enjoyed the luxuries of soap and water which are denied to no one today.
“Hygienic habits and their promotion among all groups of the population, particularly among the child group, offer the greatest promise of reduction in dangerous and infectious diseases today. It is essential that the present generation be made to realize the importance of cleansing the body with frequent bathing with soap and water as a means of promoting good health and long life”.