Excerpt from Interstate Medical Journal, Vol. 8: A Monthly Magazine of Medicine and Surgery; January, 1901
A hundred years ago the science of medicine and surgery was in its swaddling clothes. There were men who practiced medicine in those days, as there were for ages before, but it is a serious question whether these men, in their efforts to deal with disease, did not do more harm than good. The system of blood-letting, and the practice of giving enormous doses of poisonous medicines without understanding the diseases to be combated, were measures which were extremely taxing on the robust constitutions of our forefathers; and it is certain that many of them were sent to untimely graves by the overzealous treatment which was then in vogue.
The greatest strides which the past century witnessed in our special field were not in curative medicine, but in measures for the prevention of disease. At the beginning of the century the laws of sanitation were al most wholly unknown, and were universally disregarded. There were no adequate water-works or sewage systems in cities, and garbage and filth was allowed to accumulate as long as it did not interfere with traffic. Food and water were in consequence polluted. The direct relation of filth to disease was not understood. In consequence of this condition disease was rampant, and epidemics had full headway. This has all been changed - the principles of personal and public hygiene are well understood, and are constantly being put into more active practice.
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