Zymotic diseases in the aggregate were fatal to 288 persons, less by 24 than in the
preceding year. The decrease is chiefly due to the diminished rate of mortality from smallpox.
The deaths from that disease were little more than half, when compared with those
of 1866-7. It has been stated that Jenner's discovery has saved 80,000 lives annually.
That 80,000 have not died from small pox may be very true, but that they have been
saved is doubtful. Vaccination closes one avenue to death, but many more are open. There
is a vicarious mortality. The weak and ailing whom small-pox would have destroyed,
perish in their struggle with some other disease; hence the increase of deaths from scarlatina,
whooping cough, and the like diseases. This need be no cause for lamentation; for
as long as beings with degenerate organisation are born amongst us, it is necessary for the
safety of our race, that they be swept away. Whooping cough has been pre-eminently
fatal, 67 deaths being referred to that disease. Next in degree of fatality follows diarrhœa,
which caused 58 deaths. Only in two years of the last five has this disease proved more
fatal; and these were 1863-4, and 1865-6. The deaths from fever were 34. In London
there were registered 2174 deaths from this disease. Siphilis was fatal in 15 cases, and
most were infants. For arresting the spread of this subtle and terrible disease, the Contagious
Disease Act was passed. Besides this, another Act was passed last session (1867),
whereby the Guardians are empowered, on a certificate of their Medical Officer, to retain
in the workhouse any inmate suffering from this disease, so long as they cannot leave without
danger to themselves or others. "On the whole," says Sir William Jenner, "I believe
that among all preventible diseases, there is not one which is the cause of so much misery
and loss of life." It predisposes to many other diseases, especially consumption and scrofulous
affections. It is the companion and curse of civilization.