« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
in Vera Cruz the number of deaths, is to that of the inhabitants seasoned to the climate, nearly in the proportion of 1 to 30; which confirms a very generally received opinion in the country", that the individuals accustomed from their infancy to the great heat of the Mexican coast, and the miasmata contained in the atmosphere, arrive at a happy old age. In 1803, the hospitals of Vera Cruz received 4371 patients, 3671 of whom were cured. The number of deaths was then only twelve per cent., although, as we have seen from the state of the hospital of Saint Sebastian, there were always during the periods when the air was cooled by the north wind some patients under the yellow fever. We have hitherto given detailed information respecting the ravages of the vomito within the walls of Vera Cruz itself, during a year in which the epidemic raged with less violence than ordinary; but a great number of Mexican muleteers, sailors and young people (polizones) who embark in the ports of Spain to push their fortune in Mexico, fall victims to the vomito, in the village of la Antigua, at the plantation. of Muerto, at la Rinconada, at Cerro Gordo, and even at Xalapa when the invasion of the
* See vol. i. p. 103.
disease is too quick for them to be transported to the hospitals of Vera Cruz, or when they do not feel the attack till they ascend the Cordillera. The mortality is very great especially when several vessels of war and a great number of merchant ships arrive in summer at the port at the same time. There are years when the number of deaths within the town and in the environs amounts to eighteen hundred or two thousand. The loss is the more afflicting as it falls upon a class of laborious men, strong in constitution, who are nearly all in the prime of life. We may see from the sad experience which the great hospital of the monks of San Juan * has afforded within the last fifteen years, that wherever patients are accumulated in a small space, and not treated with sufficient care, the mortality increases, in great epidemics, to 80 or 35 per cent. ; while, in situations where every care can be bestowed, and where the physician varies his treatment according
* There was an intention in 1804 to suppress this hospital, and to replace it by another under the name of house of beneficence (casa de beneficiencia). Throughout all Spanish America, well informed persons complain of the methods of cure employed by the monks of Sun Juan de Dios. The task undertaken by this congregation is one of the most noble; and I could mention many examples of the disinterestedness and courage of these monks; but at a sick-bed charity will not supply the want of knowledge of art. -
coar. xii. KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN. 185
to the different forms under which the disease appears in such or such a season, the mortality does not exceed twelve or fifteen per cent. - We have derived this number from the lists of the hospital of the Consulado under the direction of M. Comoto. It no doubt appears very small when we compare it with the ravages recently made by the yellow fever in Spain *; but when we oppose these circum
* We may judge of the mean mortality observed in Spain in the epidemics of 1800, 1801, and 1804, from the following table founded on statements which I owe to the obliging kindness of M. Dumeril.
Years. Towns. | Patients. Deaths. mortality.
- Cadiz 48,520 9,977 20 percent.
M. Arejula informs us, that, in every 100 patients, there died in 1800 at Seville 19; in 1804 at Alicant 26; at Malaga in stances to one another, we must not forget that the disease does not rage every year, and does not affect every individual with the same violence. To obtain accurate results as to the proportion between the deaths and the patients, we must distinguish the different degrees of exacerbation of the vomito, in its progressive developement. According to Russel, even the plague appears sometimes at Aleppo under such benign atmospherical influences, that many of the infected individuals are not confined to bed during the whole course of the epidemic. In the environs of Vera Cruz, the vomito is only felt in the country at the distance of ten leagues from the coast. In proportion as we- advance towards the West, the ground rapidly rises, and as the temperature of the air is affected by this elevation, New Spain cannot throw any light on the important question, whether the yellow fever is ever developed in places at a distance from the sea. M. Volney" relates that an epidemical disease, bearing a great resemblance in many respects to the yellow fever, prevailed to the east of the Alleghany mountains in the marshy grounds which surround fort Miami, near lake Erie; and M. Ellicott made similar observations respecting the banks of the Ohio; but
1803 nearly 40, and more than 60 in 1804. He affirms that the physicians in Spain may boast of having cured three fifths of the patients who vomited black matter (De la Febre, p. 148.
433–444). This assertion of a celebrated practician would
indicate, in the case of a great exacerbation of the disease, a
mortality of 40 per cent.
we must not forget that remittent bilious fevers sometimes assume the adynamical character of the yellow fever. In Spain as well as in the United States, the epidemic has always followed the sea coast, and the course of the great rivers. It has been called in question whether it ever really prevailed at Cordova; but it appears certain that it exercised its ravages at Carlota, five leagues to the south of Cordova, a very healthy town situated on a high hill, and open to the most salubrious winds. * The system of Brown did not excite greater enthusiasm at Edinburgh, Milan, and Vienna, than it has excited in Mexico. Those persons of intelligence who were enabled to observe with impartiality the good and the evil produced by the stimulant system, are in general of opinion that, upon the whole, American medicine has gained by this revolution. The abuse of bleeding, purgatives, and all the debilitating remedies was very great indeed in the Spanish and French Colonies; and this abuse not only increased the mortality among people in bad health, but was detrimental to newly arrived Europeans, who were bled
* Berthe, p. 16. Carlota is twenty-six leagues in a straight line from the sea.