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"Non-contagious nature of cholera, and its treatment"

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(May 1846): 651-52

PFD from photocopy, courtesy of the Taubman Medical Library, University of Michigan.

Several excerpts reveal Clark's views.

"By the latest accounts from Asia and the east of Europe, it appears that that awful pestilence, the cholera, after sweeping over a part of the former continent, has arrived at the latter. . . . No person, I apprehend, who has had any experience in the matter, and whose mind, divested of prejudice, is capable of being exercised in a sound induction from facts, will now contend that cholera is of a contagious nature. The simple fact seems to be, that the cause of cholera exists, like many other epidemics, in a peculiar--I may, perhaps, say poisonous--condition of the atmosphere, but of the exact nature of that cause or condition we may as well, I believe, confess ourselves entirely ignorant. . ." (651).

"Cholera, then, seems to me to be produced by a deleterious condition of the atmosphere, of the exact nature or even origin of which we are utterly ignorant, as no appreciable difference can be detected between this air and any other, by any means with which we are at present acquainted. This air having entered the blood through the medium of the lungs, a morbid impression is directly produced; the constitution as it were immediately takes the alarm, and number of violent actions are set up by the vis medicatrix Naturæ to expel the dangerous intruder; hence the severe vomiting and purging at the onset, terminating in the rice-water stools, and producing extreme irritation of the spinal nerves, as exhibited in cramps in the abdomen, lower extremities, &c." (652).

Clark continues to describe symptoms and offers suggestions for treatment. He concludes with the following paragraph:

"The progress of the disease during its last visitation in this country showed that it chiefly attacked the poor, the ill-fed, the ill-clothed--those breathing an impure atmosphere in crowded streets and dwellings,--in fact, all those whose blood was impoverished, or whose health and strength were previously impaired by any cause whatsoever. . ." (652).

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