CHOLERA IN FRANCE.-PUBLIC ANALYSTS’ DIFFICULTIES.
,scious of his death, while under the bed a little child was .grovelling in the cholera dejecta. In such cases as this .everything in the room was taken out and burnt. In the
Rue des Passerelles I visited many very wretched over.crowded houses. There was a little row of cottages built in .a hollow at least six feet below the level of the thoroughfare. Here there was a pool, some twelve feet square, of foul .stagnant water that could not possibly drain away. In the upper portion of the Rue des Passerelles, after passing the Rue du Jeu de Mail, there are long back- courts behind the taller houses that face the street. Here the cottages are so small that there is not even room for a proper staircase, but the upper floor is reached by a sort of ladder. The yards are dirty, in many places not paved, and the closet accommodation is altogether insufficient. There are pumps in some of these dirty back-courts, though the inhabitants denied that they drank the water. In the Rue du Jeu de Mail I found persons drinking water from a pump in a back yard, though in the houses adjoining - either side of this yard there had been deaths from cholera,. The house in question (No. 30, Rue du Jeu de Mail) was occupied by no less than fourteen different families, and, with one - exception, these were single-roomed tenements. The rents ranged from 5s. 8d. per week upwards. The overcrowding was intense, the poverty appalling, and the amount of faecal - matter in passages and along the street walls in all directions .showed how insufficient is the closet accommodation and ,how filthy are the habits of the people. Yet in this, one of the worst, cholera centres people still drank well-water rather .than take the trouble to fetch the pure town water from the ’ -neighbouring public fountains. The water provided by the town comes from Houlte, in the Pas de Calais, at a distance of about twenty-five miles from Dunkirk. The springs are situated at an altitude of thirtyfive metres above the town, and metallic pipes convey to Dunkirk 8000 cubic metres of water in twenty-four hours. There are scattered over Dunkirk forty-three public fountains, where water can be obtained gratuitously, and there are 223 hydrants under the pavement, generally utilised for the purpose of washing the gutters. The minimum subscription is 30 fr. a year for fifty cubic metres of water. The larger the quantity of water taken, the cheaper the subscription-thus, it is 60 centimes per cubic metre for 100 cubic metres per annum and only 15 centimes per cubic metre for :2500 cubic metres. As Dunkirk is surrounded by fortifications its population cannot increase beyond a certain limit, and it was therefore felt that the above supply would be -sufficient ; but it is very difficult to estimate the population of Dunkirk, for it varies considerably, according to the movements of the ships in the port and of the soldiers in the .garrison. The last census set the population down at 39,194, including a garrison of 1317 soldiers. The number of deaths from 1883 to 1892 were year by year as follows : 1093, 1099, ;1M5, 1059,-970, 1060, 1024, 1103, 1056, 1120. The figure for last year is very high, in consequence of the influenza, as well as of the 35 deaths from cholera. This gives an .average number of deaths per annum for the last ten years of 1072, which is equal to a death-rate of 27 -36 per 1000 if calculated on the nominal population of the town ; yet out of the .35 deaths due to cholera 7 were persons strangers to the So with regard to the other deaths ’town, such as sailors &c. many occur in the floating population which are not counted in the census returns. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the death-rate is high-indeed, according to our English estimate, very high. Yet Dunkirk has certain very striking
.advantages. Though a fortified town, the streets are fairly broad ; they are, on the whole, well kept, whilst in most of the dwellings there prevails that Flemish cleanliness which has won so high a repute all the world over. In addition Dunkirk is exposed to the strong sea winds that sweep through the town and must very materially contribute to purify the atmosphere. On the other
hand, if of
insalubrity are evident on all sides. by the accompanying map that only some
the tidal port, mentioned above, was not only near the mouths of three small sewers, but also just opposite the main sewer outfall. This main sewer forms a sort of circle round the centre of the town and is of comparatively recent structure. It It was originally intended measures 1 metre 80 c. by 1 metre. to receive the sewage from the greater part of the smaller sewers and to thus reduce the contamination of the canals. At its starting point at the end of the Canal de Berques a pipe 40 centimetres in diameter was introduced so that the sewer might be occasionally flushed out with water from the canal, but the fall in the sewer was so slight that The idea of using this sewer as it soon became foul. a main drain was abandoned; though called the egout collecteur, it does not collect. The sewer mouths gave off such bad odours that these were converted into dip-traps from which the mud and heavy deposits are emptied out by scavengers. The consequence is that the main sewer has no regular ventilation. The outfall, it will be seen, is at the commencement of the tidal port, in the midst of the shippingmuch too near the town and much too far from the sea. As for the numerous smaller sewers, they are built in the most extraordinary and erratic manner. As an example, I secured a plan of a portion of the Rue des Pierres, a frequented and central street running between the forts and the Place Jean Burt. The portion of this street nearest the Rue de has no sewer, but two private householders have built, on their own account, small drains along which the sewage can travel till it reaches the sewer. In the street, under the causeway, there are cesspools and water-cisterns side by side. In the accompanying map the main sewer is represented by a thick continuous line, the ordinary sewers by a dotted line, and the sewer outlets are denoted by One of the small private drains just mentioned arrows. is built through two cesspools. The extraordinary and erratic junction between the sewer and its branches In one case the pavement stone attracted my notice. of the causeway and of the gutter actually touches the roofing of the cesspool. I was not therefore surprised to find deep holes in this court as if the roofing of some of these cesspools had given way. In the Rue de l’Eglise, close by, the tramway passes and there is a great deal of traffic, yet the cesspool is better built, although it is too close to the surface of the street. The aperture is covered by an iron lid, and shows how these cesspools can be emptied from the street. All this, however, may be put down as errors of the past, committed in days when little or nothing was known as to the science of drainage. In the street where so many cases of cholera have occurred the egg-shaped form of the sewer shows that it is of recent structure, but how is the connexion with the house established ? Instead of draining off as rapidly as possible the foul water from the house, there is a huge sort of catchpit under the causeway with a stone that forms a dip-trap. It is only when this pit is full of slops and dirt that the more liquid portion begins to overflow towards the sewer, which it reaches by means of a square, clumsy drain, in which deposits are made along the whole course. Finally, I would call attention to the condition of the sewers that pass by the theatre. Here we have the strange anomaly of gaspipes running straight athwart the sewers. They are old flat-bottomed sewers, through which it would be dimcult enough for sewage to flow under the best circumstances ; but with gas-pipes right across the current it is quite certain that these sewers are in a foul condition. Their antique character and their danger and inefficacy need not be pointed out. Evidently the whole of Dunkirk requires to be drained anew. A comprehensive scheme must be prepared, and the entire sewage collected on one spot and from thence propelled by mechanical power to an outfall at some distance from the town. Dunkirk is too flat and on too low a level to be drained by mere gravitation ; nevertheless, it must be drained before it can obtain a normal death-rate and escape from the danger of cholera.
It will be seen PUBLIC ANALYSTS’ DIFFICULTIES. of the streets have sewers, and that these sewers drain into the nearest canal. There the sewage has time to deposit all the heavy matter it holds in suspension, THE Food and DrugsAct has been in operation for nearly for it is only occasionally that some of the water of the canal twenty years, and, although adulteration is not practised now is drained off. It has been already explained that the cases in the crude way it was at the time of the memorable of cholera occurred on board barges moored near the outfalls Commission of THE LANCET, yet it is believed Analytical of sewers coming from streets where cholera had already broken out and that the sailors taken ill on board ships in that it is still going on, not perhaps to so large an extent as the port were also moored near sewer outfalls. The ship in before, but certainly with greater subtlety and skill. In the
TIBBITS V. ALABASTER AND OTHERS.
f the Board, should be placed in direct relation, is one that ierits consideration. It would certainly be an advantage if’ nalysts could be officially apprised of the latest forms which dulteration is taking ; they could be warned to look out for ny special and novel kind of sophistication of which the Government officials in their capacity might become cogisant. The present system of reference in the case of analysis is frauds which only the skilled and experienced analyst can ot satisfactory. On this account there has been a good deal f friction lately between public analysts and the Somerset detect. The work of the modern analyst is, in fact, more tedious than heretofore, requires greater skill, involves a wider louse officials in regard to the wording of certificates. Theknowledge of scientific facts, and often demands