Old Ledbury - World War One in Ledbury - Doctors

World War One in Ledbury - Doctors

World War One Ledbury Doctors

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 15 08 1914
Sir,- At a meeting of the Ledbury and District Medical Society held to-day, it was unanimously decided by the medical men practising in the district to offer our services, free of charge, to the wives and children and other dependants of those men (Reservists, Territorials &c.) who are serving with the colours and for whom no other medical provision is already made, provided they are without the means of obtaining medical assistance.
Will you kindly publish this letter in your next issue.
We are, yours very truly,
T.G. ELSWORTH, Colwall.
J. McK. HARRISON, Ledbury.
FRED C. H. HOME, Tarrington.
The Yews,Ledbury,August 12, 1914

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 28 11 1914
On Friday afternoon last Dr. A. R. GREEN, of Ledbury, gave a most interesting an instructive lecture on the subject of "Microbes, and some of the diseases caused by them."

The Rector (The Rev. F. W. CARNEGY) presided over a fair attendance. The lecture was originally arranged to be given on November 6th, but unfortunately Dr. GREEN was taken ill that week, and the lecture had, therefore, to be postponed. Dr. GREEN having recovered, the event took place on Friday. The proceeds were in aid of a much needed stretcher for use in the town, and any surplus is to be devoted to the local Belgian Refuge Fund.

The Rector, having briefly opened the proceedings, Dr. GREEN proceeded to deliver his lecture, which occupied just over an hour. The subject proved extremely interesting and instructive, and was listened to with great attention. At first sight the subject of the lecture seems a very uninteresting one, but those who had the privilege of hearing the lecturer on Friday will agree that such was far from being the case. Dr. GREEN dealt with his subject in a fashion which compelled the attention of his audience. In his prefatory remarks, Dr. GREEN apologised for the postponement of the lecture, and expressed the view that the microbes must have heard of his intentions, for they made a most determined attack upon him, and laid him up in bed for a few days. (Laughter). Passing on, Dr. GREEN expressed his indebtedness in the preparation of the paper to mucons authors, chiefly to Drs. MACFIE, KIDD, and JONES. He had tried as much as possible to avoid technical terms, so that the subject, which was a fascinating one to him, would prove not uninteresting to his hearers.

Proceeding, Dr. GREEN gave some historical details showing how in the 17th century a Dutch lens-maker put his eye to the microscope and discovered germs though it was not until a century later that the connection between those germs and disease began to dawn upon the world. In the 18th century a vast amount of work was done to try and prove the theory that these microbes were the causes of disease, and this he characterised as one of the most interesting momentous controversies in the history of mankind. It was not merely a question of theoretical interest, but it affected the practical question of the origin and treatment of discease, (sic) and it may safely be said that upon no war have so many lives depended. PASTEUR, to whom the honour belongs of having definitely settled the question, saw the tremendous practical importance of it, and established the principle that germ diseases might be prevented by preventing the entrance to our bodies of microbes or might be cured the destroying the microbes after entrance. The lecturer went on to examine some of the characteristics of microbes, of which he said there were several varieties, the most important being bacteria, which are the most minute, ubiquitous and versatile, and are found almost everywhere. Bacteria multiply without sentiment or ceremony, simply by each dividing into two, and each new-born microbe is thus literally "a chip off the old block," and it is a wise microbe that knows its own father. Interesting details of bacteria in relation to food and their value in certain industries were then given, and the lecturer proceeded to show that if suddenly every bacterium were killed the dead would not decay, but would simply lie and dry, and the face of the earth would be like a museum or charnel-house with undecaying leaves and flowers and mummified corpses. Microbes are drunkards, and dairymen, tobacconists and tanners, scavengers and cooks, brewers, and florists, philanthropists and homicides, spirits of health and goblins of disease. Dr. GREEN at once gripped the attention of his hearers. Taking diphtheria as the first example, he reminded the audience how within their own memory this disease was dreaded, and how helpless doctors used to be in face of a bad case. One out of every three persons attacked used to die, but now less than one in ten attacked dies, and even that rate could easily be reduced if the cases were seen by doctors in their early stages. In tracing the causes of this great saving of life, Dr. GREEN said that the microbes of diphtheria live in the throat about the tonsils and from their headquarters fill the blood with poisons which are called toxins, which attack the cells of the body and make the patient very ill.

When a person has had an attack of infectious disease, went on the lecturer, he does not catch the disease again for a long time, often not for the whole of the rest of his life. It is because there is something in his system which is antagonistic to the microbe or germ of the disease, and in all probability this something, which is called an anti-toxin, which means against the poison, is in the blood. It was thought that if you could take some of the blood from a person who had recovered from diphtheria and inject it into the blood of a person suffering from the disease, then the anti-toxin, or substance which is against the poison which you had taken from the recovered person, would destroy the microbe which was causing the illness to the person who was suffering from the disease. Of course, they could not experiment with human beings in this way, and experiments were made on guinea pigs, which were described at length, and demonstrated that the view he had previously expressed was possible and that an anti-toxin could be procured. The experiment was then extended to horses, and from these animals specially kept in connection with bacteriological laboratories, the blood serum is obtained, put up in hermetically sealed glass tubes, which are supplied like any other medicine to the medical profession. The treatment was first tried in 1894, but it was not until 1896 that the use of it became general at all. As illustrating the efficacy of the use of anti-toxin, Dr. GREEN mentioned that in the Ledbury Rural District in the 19 years before anti-toxin serum was used there were 46 deaths from diphtheria, and in 19 years from 1894 to 1912 the deaths were only 16.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the lecture was that which dealt with the story of how malaria or ague was stamped out. Incidentally, this story was connected with the Panama Canal, for the story winds up with the successful cutting of the Panama Canal, a result which the world has been waiting for for years, but which hitherto was made absolutely impossible by the disease called malaria or ague owing to the number of deaths among the workmen. It is a triumph of medicine almost more than of engineering. In describing this story, Dr. GREEN dealt very fully with the experiments made by an Army surgeon - Surgeon-Major Ronald ROSS - who proved that the microbe of malaria lives for awhile in the intestines of the mosquito, marries there and multiplies there, and its offspring reaching the mouth is inoculated into any animal the insect may bite. Surgeon-Major (now Sir) Ronald ROSS and Dr. Patrick MONSON proved by experiment that mosquitos carried malaria. Dr. Patrick MONSON's son, Dr. Thorburn MONSON, allowed himself to be bitten by mosquitos, which had been allowed to bite and feed upon a patient whose blood was known to be full of the microbes of malaria, and within 10 or 14 days he was so ill with malarial fever that his life was actually in danger, and when his blood was examined the microbe of malaria was found in it. It was at once seen how this discovery might enable the long abandoned Panama Canal works to be completed. All you had to do was to protect the men engaged in the work from mosquito bites by mosquito curtains to beds and gauze netting over all windows and doors. But a step further was taken. Besides protecting people from mosquito bites why not try to destroy the mosquitos altogether? It was a big task, but fortunately the breeding habits of the mosquito make it possible to destroy them completely in the larval or grub stage. All mosquitos lay their eggs and the young ones, the grubs, grow first in water, preferably stagnant pools, and this is why the marshy districts were malarial, because mosquitos abounded. The newly-hatched mosquito swims about and has to breathe air from the surface of the water, through a very delicate air-trumpet which is pushed above the surface, and if the water is covered with a film of any oily liquid the young grub cannot penetrate this film or it clogs up his air-trumpet and he dies. The task then resolved itself into removing by draining as much water as possible from the country and wherever water must be left to cover the surface in the warmer months with a film of easily applied oil, ordinary paraffin being found most convenient practically for the purpose. This was done and the Panama Canal was completed.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. GREEN dealt with the bacillus of tuberculosis and added a few words on the vast political importance of microbes, instancing how the microbes of consumption, and small-pox had fought for civilisation. Save for civilised diseases the "black problem" would have checkmated us all over the world. With the advance of science microbes became less and less important as political agents, their political career is practically finished, and now mankind is engaged in either abolishing them or in subjugating them. Malaria, diphtheria, consumption, small-pox and many other diseases caused by microbes can be prevented. Year after year disease is being slowly but surely conquered, and the story of the combat with the microbes of diseases is a long romance, which will have a happy ending. (Loud applause).

The Chairman moved a warm vote of thanks to Dr. GREEN for his very excellent lectures. The stories of the cure of diphtheria and the cure of malaria were exceptionally interesting. Scientific terms has (sic) been used with such clearness that all had been enabled to follow the lecture. He wished Dr. GREEN could have had more time to tell them about the benefits of vaccination, as four children out of five were now unvaccinated, and some people seemed to be absolutely oblivious to the health of the community. (Applause).

The vote of thanks was carried with acclamation, and Dr. GREEN briefly replied.

1914 - 1919 Ledbury Guardian Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1916 Tilley's Almanack
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