Excerpt from The Practitioner: A Medical Journal; January-June, 1907
The Editor of T HE practitioner has requested me, and requested me so kindly, to write a few words introductory to the present collection of essays on the several aspects of inﬂuenza that, although I do not feel able to add much to the paper I had the honour of reading before the Hunterian Society in April, 1905, I feel still less able to forfeit the further honour of association with the remarkable company of observers and investigators which he has enlisted, even if it be only that of him who carries the wand and points to the diagrams. This task is the more difficult as inﬂuenza is of protean diseases the most protean more diversified even than syphilis, with which infection it shares, may I say even still, the elusive behaviour of its infectious element. In both, this element is caught, as it were, by glimpses, and its action so largely modified by incidental conditions, that. In the one as in the other, diagnosis is often a delicate balance of probabilities. Dr. Newsholme brings out statistically the excessive pulmonary death-rate during epidemics of influenza, although in many individual cases it may be difficult to detect the specific cause with any certainty. He adds, only too suggestively, that were it as easy to deal by statistics with nervous and circulatory diseases as it is with the pulmonary, we should probably discover in these spheres of disease a like excessive prevalence. Well, then, may such a pervasive virus, fighting in part under its own ﬂag, in part treacherously under other ﬂags, be as disastrous at length, if not so appalling, as the plague itself. And not only is this subtle bane manifest directly and indirectly in its course, but, as more than one of the essayists tells us, it may feign.
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