20 FEBRUARY 1886, Page 14


LT0 THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—Now that all suitable provisions have been made for giving the vapour-bath treatment of hydrophobia a fair trial, as your correspondent, Miss Wedgwood, pointed out on February 13th, it is to be hoped that the "modern Naamans " will be as wise as their ancient prototype, and, instead of doing the "great thing" of rushing off to M. Pasteur when bitten by a mad dog, or seized with symptoms of hydrophobia, will be content with the humbler remedy of the vapour-bath, and go straight to one of the institutions Miss Wedgwood has named. Dr. Buisson is not the only one who has used the vapour-bath treatment for this disease. M. Victor Meunier, in the Rappel of November 10th last, gives the details of several cases in which it has been successfully used by others. Dr. Dujardin Beaumetz used it as a preventive measure oa three persons bitten by a rabid dog ; and Dr. Dartigue, at a place near Pujols (Gironde), cured by the same means a man seized with hydrophobia seventy-two days after receiving a bite. I can assure all persons who have had, or may have, the misfor- tune to be bitten by a mad dog that, as the evidence at present stands, they are much more likely to be saved from the con- sequences—possible or actual—of such a bite by the vapour-bath treatment than by M. Pasteur's inoculations. As yet M. Pasteur has not proved that his " vaccine " has any effect whatever on human beings ; though the death of Louise Pelletier from hydrophobia fourteen days after inoculation by him, is a significant indication of the kind of effect it may have.

The only true test of the value of any remedy for hydro- phobia is to be found in its action when the symptoms of the disease have actually set in. There is good evidence to show that the vapour-bath has really cured the fully developed disease. M. Pasteur does not pretend to have found a cure, but only a preventive ; and, fortunately for him, it is absolutely impossible to prove whether he has or has not ; for no one can say for certain that any person, however badly bitten, by how- ever rabid a dog, must necessarily take hydrophobia. But, in addition to the inevitable uncertainties attending his experi- ment, M. Pasteur has created others by neglecting to ascertain if his subjects were really bitten by mad dogs. The dog that bit Joseph Meister (his first subject) was pronounced rabid because, forsooth, a few chips were found in its stomach after death! Dr. Louis Combet, writing in the Ana du Psuple under date of January find, gives the history of another of the dogs that have furnished M. Pasteur with subjects. This dog was chased and ill-treated by a troop of boys just dismissed from school, until, in self-defence, it turned and bit one of them. A crowd collected, and promptly pronouncing the poor beast to be mad killed it on the spot. The boy was sent to M. Pasteur, and inoculated by him, and he has now the chance of sharing Louise Pelletier's fate. If he had been treated by the vapour-bath method until the facts about the dog had been ascertained, he would have been sent home with nothing worse than a clean skin, and certainly free from the additional risk of taking hydrophobia that all those must run who submit to M. Pasteur's