During the months of August, September and October of this year (1863), there has been in the town of Penzance an epidemic of malignant scarlatina, and many children have died of it. In my own practice I have lost two children, one an infant of five months, the other a little girl of four years; both of these sank in consequence of the larynx becoming affected with that kind of croupy inflammation which is met with both in scarlatina and in diphtheria. I had tried the prophylactic powers of Belladonna in families of five or six children without any beneficial result, for I found that when the disease had gained a footing in a house, the children were almost sure to be laid down on their sick beds one after another — nay more, the parents and nurses became affected with scarlatinous sore throat with or without ulceration. I tried Belladonna as the most reliable medicine during the course of the disease, but it failed to preserve life in the two instances mentioned, and in many others I found that a severe form of renal dropsy followed. The dropsy yielded favorably to Terebinth3 or Apis mel.3 — so that upon the whole my success was at least equal to that of my neighbors. But it ought to have been greater. In order to have stood well in the eyes of the critical public, I should not have had one fatal case.
On the 7th of September I was requested to visit a little boy, aged eight years; the scarlatinous rash had then been out four days, during which period the parents had been administering Belladonna2. As the child grew worse, they became alarmed and requested my advice. The boy was very ill, not comatose, but torpid, oppressed. The throat much affected, but as yet no laryngeal affection. The body was covered with an intensely deep, red rash (the rash did not begin to fade until the sixth day), except on the right forearm, the front of which was as white as snow. I enquired if that part had been the seat of any skin disease, and was informed that ten days before the child was stung by a bee, and that the white mark showed exactly the extent of the inflammation.
Here then was one of nature's hints; here was written in language which could not be mistaken, “Similia similibus curentur,” for if the bee poison could after the lapse of ten days have such a persistent effect on the capillaries of the fore arm, that they were still insensible to that storm of disease which was raging in every other part of the body, it was a natural conclusion that the same poison administered in proper doses would have a controlling power over scarlatina. I therefore at once prescribed Apis mel.3, one drop every four hours. The following day the child was much relieved, and rapidly regained his usual health.
A few days after, a sister of the before mentioned sickened with scarlatina; she was twelve years of age, and on the second day of the fever, the rash extended generally over the body. She took Apis only; the throat did not become much affected; she did not suffer from one alarming symptom, and made a good recovery.
Soon after, a little boy, aged three years, of the same family, became affected with hematuria to a severe extent, but without any fever. At first he voided blood mixed with urine, and on the second day almost pure blood. He took Arsenic and Arnica3 and the hemorrhage ceased. In this case I suspected the influence of scarlatina poison, and that by some anomaly the kidneys had become very early affected with a kind of congestion, and this opinion I expressed to the parents. On the fourth day of his illness he became hot and flushed, and in a few hours the usual rash appeared on his chest. He had rather a severe attack, but took Apis only and recovered. At the end of a fortnight his urine became loaded with albumen and some blood globules. He had Arsenic and Arnica, when the renal affection subsided.
The nurse of these children now became affected with scarlatina; she had an intense attack; the rash came out universally; the throat was severely affected. She took Apis throughout her illness, with the exception of one day, on which I gave her Bell.2, to relieve her throat, but without any marked benefit. She has had a severe attack of renal anasarca, from which she has not as yet fully recovered. She has taken Ars., Apis, Canth., Terebinth., but her legs are still much swollen, and there is much albumen in the urine.
A boy, aged eight, came under treatment about this time for renal anasarca consequent on scarlatina. In this case Apis3 appeared to answer perfectly well. The boy was swollen throughout the body, from the face to the feet, urine highly charged with albumen. He recovered favorably.
About the same time I was requested to visit a little girl, aged eleven, an only child. After an illness of a few hours, the rash of scarlatina came out over her chest She seemed much prostrated by the disease, and I apprehended a severe attack. Tincture of Apis3 was given in drop doses every three hours. The next day the child was much better, sitting up and very cheerful. The rash did not appear on the body generally. The throat was scarcely at all affected, and she quickly recovered without any bad symptom, to the great joy of her parents.
An infant, aged ten months, was very feverish, restless and flushed on the face for two days, when scarlatina made its appearance on the chest and back. She took Apis2 only, and the disease rapidly disappeared.
A little girl, aged eleven, had been ill for a week with “throat disease.” This expression, as also “throat fever,” are the terms commonly used by poor people to convey what they mean in reference to the epidemic which has been so fatal hereabout. All, as far as I have observed, have been of the scarlatinous type; I have not seen one case of pure, diphtheria. The child above mentioned was reduced to a state of great weakness, and when I arrived at the house I was informed that an infant was lying dead up-stairs from the same disease. Of the infant the account I received was that it was suddenly seized whilst playing in its cradle with vomiting and purging, and in the course of twenty-four hours was a corpse. I examined the little girl's throat and noticed a few sloughy abrasions on the tonsils, gave Apis, and there was immediate benefit. She had pretty well recovered, when a fortnight after she had a relapse from some unknown cause — again took Apis with prompt relief.
I could not learn that the infant had had any rash, and I felt convinced that the scarlatinous poison had produced such an interior effect on the system as to extinguish life, before any vital reaction could take place. The following events have (with others which have come to my knowledge, or been related to me), convinced me of the truth of this opinion.
Very recently I was called to a poor woman suffering from “throat fever;” on arriving at the close hovel in a fusty courtyard I found the patient in bed, speaking with that sort of voice which one hears in quinsy; she had been ill several days; was weak and pale, and unable to swallow except with extreme pain — at the foot of the bed was a bady in its coffin I inquired the cause of death, and was told that it was the diarrhea (!) By the Bide of the mother was a child two-years of age, and this little one I was also informed had the diarrhea; a bottle containing chalk mixture, tincture of Catechu, etc., was on the table, and this trash had been given by some ignorant “assistant” to the children. I looked at the child and found that it had scarlatina in its most malignant form; I gave Apis, then Bell., then Lachesis, but the glands of the throat swelled enormously and the child soon died.
And here I would observe that I believe Apis to be only of service in the eruptive stages of scarlatina; I have not seen any benefit result from its use when the glands of the throat have begun to swell, or when the larynx has become much affected.
A boy, aged ten, was taken with the disease, and I was sent for immediately; he had scarlatina in a most intense form. Rash commenced on the surface, throat severely affected Apis only brought him well through.
A little girl, of the same family, aged nine, was then taken with a sore throat: for three days the left tonsil was much inflamed as in quinsy; on the fourth day, the rash came out universally. She, too, had Apis only, and did well.
My experience is equivocal. In a family of seven sons the eldest had scarlatina, and I once gave Bell, to the six younger sons, and not one of them took the disease. Again, in a family of six children, when the disease had made its appearance amongst them, I gave Bell. to those not affected, but without any advantage, as in the course of two or three Weeks they were all laid down in succession, but all recovered. The epidemic here referred to yielded to Aconite, Belladonna and Mercurius.
But I have thought it Tight to put Apis on its trial as a protective — thus far I can speak well of it, but, truth to say, toy experience is not sufficiently extended to enable me to speak with any degree of certainty or dogmatism.
A youth, aged thirteen, (one of a family of seven children), is now recovering from a severe attack of scarlatina. He took Apis only, and although the throat was severely attacked, there has not been the slightest tendency to glandular affection. I pat the whole household under the influence of our medicine, and there has been no infection communicated — but then we are not yet out of the wood.*[Since the abort was written, a little girl, aged 3 years, of the same family, baa passed through the disease in a highly favorable manner. How far the disease was modified in consequence of her taking bee poison during the week before her attack, it is impossible to speak with any degree of certainty. — Dec. 12th, 1863.]
I hope after a time to give some supplementary observations and results of treatment of scarlatina with Apis. To half a dozen inquiries made by me amongst homoeopathic physicians in the West, I have had replies that they have not used Apis in the eruptive stage of scarlatina. I would venture to hope that the medicine will be put to the test most rigidly, and I am sanguine enough to think that in those epidemics of this frightful malady in which Belladonna fails, the remedy I have mentioned will be found a most useful resource.
Finally, it might be alleged, nay, it has been alleged, that the fact of bee poison modifying the condition of the skin when injected by the sting of the insect affords no proof that as a medicine received into the stomach it can have active powers of any kind. But I cannot agree with this opinion. The history of Lachesis and ether animal poisons is quite conclusive in an opposite direction, and my clinical experience may also be taken for as much as it is worth.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 04 No. 10, 1864, pages 446-451
|Apis Mellifica in Scarlatina Maligna.
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