4 JANUARY 1930, Page 24


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sin,—Your issue of December 28th contains a letter from Dr. Roux, of the Pasteur Institute, criticizing a letter of mine that appeared in your issue of November 30th.

In that letter I said that, in the five years following the adoption of the Pasteur treatment of Hydrophobia, the deaths from hydrophobia in France had been more numerous than in the five years preceding the adoption of Pasteur's treatment. Dr. Roux does not contradict that statement. The deaths from hydrophobia in the whole of France before Pasteur's treatment averaged thirty per annum ; with Pasteurian treatment this number increased to forty-five per annum.

I said that I had seen a list of 3,000 deaths from hydrophobia of persons who had undergone the Pasteur treatment. I did not say that those 3,000 deaths were at the Pasteur Institute of Paris. Everybody knows there are Pasteur Institutes in many towns and in many countries. Dr. Roux does not contradict my statement, but he would make it appear that I had said the 3,000 deaths were at the Paris Institute, which shows that he had not read my letter very carefully. He gives the number of persons treated, for hydrophobia, at the Paris Institute, in the last forty years as 43,347, and the deaths 112, which is rather less than 0.2 per cent. He then goes on to give the fatality rate of cases before the Pasteurian system was adopted, which he puts at 20 per cent. for those bitten on the limbs and 80 per cent, for those bitten on the head, but he gives no actual number of deaths. Where Dr. Roux gets these figures from he does not state. It is evident that this fatality rate refers not to dog bites but to cases where hydrophobia has actually developed. There have never been any statistics of the number of bites by animals suffering from hydrophobia. Generally the dog is killed, so that it is impossible to trace its condition. What is called hydrophobia in human beings has been often cured, and the alleged death rates of 20 per cent. and 80 per cent. are unusually high. Pasteur laid down arbitrary rules ; thus, if a patient died during treatment or within fifteen days of the completion of the treatment, that was not recorded as a failure. Thus, Major Harvey of the Kasauli Institute, explains that, out of twenty-six deaths of cases under treatment for hydrophobia, only four were put down as failures of the treatment. If there were similar rules at the Paris Institute, the actual number of deaths would be not 112, but about 700.

As a general rule, the cases that go to a Pasteurian Institute for treatment are those of slight bites and scratches or simple licking, or nothing at all and, if they had been left alone, no harm would have resulted.—I am, Sir, &c.,