HYDROPHOBIA—ANTIDOTE TO PRUSSIC ACID.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
8th August 1931.
Sin—" Hydrophobia" is another name for death in its most appalling form: medicine cannot alleviate its terrors, much less provide a cure. I would not anticipate an evil to come unless I could do good by so doing. 'We should not have our armour to seek when the enemy is in the field. Mr. GOSNER'S case of hydrophobia has but too lamentably proved the utter inefficiency of that forlorn hope—the guaco. In the case referred to, the quantity of the expressed juice taken in all amounted to 411 ounces ! and yet the boy fell a victim to the disease in fifty-four hours from its commencement.
Surely I may now, with some faint hope of success, entreat the atten- tion of the medical profession to the trial of CHLORINE. If the body of the patient be encased in oil or varnished silk, or MACINTOSH'S water- proof cloth, there would be no difficulty in circumfusing an atmosphere of chlorine. A solution of chloride of soda should also be injected into the stomach ; and the atmosphere which the patient breathes be, in ad- dition, strongly impregnated with the same powerful gas.
Taking it for granted that there is a specific poison in the case, the following simple experiment will determine the question. Let a portion of linen rag be moistened with the frothy matter ejected by the rabid dog or hydrophobia patient, and parted into eight pieces ; finally, let one half this number be exposed to the agency of Chlorine, and let so many healthy dogs be inoculated with them,—if those that have been exposed to the influence of the gas be inert, while the others are followed by rabid symptoms, the discovery of a specific remedy in Chlorine is complete. The following experiments are particularly interesting, as at once showing the power of Chlorine and announcing an effectual antidote to that tremendous poison, Hydrocyanic or Prussic Acid. Three or four drops of this acid would have instantly destroyed a large dog, and two drops were sufficient to destroy a cat. A stream of Chlorine was passed through ten drops of Prussic Acid ; this was administered to a healthy dog, but it was followed by no visible effect whatever. Twenty drops more (sufficient to destroy five dogs) of the Hydrocyanic Acid was mixed with about an ounce of solution of Chloride of Lime, and given to the same dog. This being insufficient to neutralize the poison, the poor animal exhibited the most frightful effects of the acid. Solution of Chloride being plentifully and continually supplied, the animal com- pletely recovered, and has continued quite well. So that it is proved, beyond all doubt, that Chlorine, or better, Solution of Chloride of Lime, is a most complete and specific antidote for this formidable poison. I have the honour to be, Sir, your very humble servant,