Full text: Problems in eugenics

4ioSection IV.F. W. Mott. 
the cause of the most terrible form of insanity: general paralysis. This 
disease is fatal a few years after the onset of symptoms ; heredity plays 
relatively an unimportant part in its causation; it affects all classes in pro­ 
portion to their liability to syphilitic infection. There are no reliable statistics 
to show whether syphilitic infection is more prevalent at the present time 
than formerly; severe obvious affections are not nearly so prevalent owing 
probably to a racial immunity or partial immunity, but there is no assurance 
that the late manifestations affecting especially the brain and spinal cord are 
not more numerous than formerly. It is certain that with the conversion 
of the rural into an urban population, the more ready mingling of the town 
and country population, the short military service, and the frequency 
with which soldiers were syphilized by service in India, and other causes 
incidental to life in large cities with their armies of professional prostitutes 
and clandestine prostitutes, the possibilities of a general and widespread 
syphilization of the race has occurred since the development of the railway 
system in England. This has probably led to a partial racial immunity, 
and the widespread existence of the disease in a latent form. 
The Eugenics Education Society, recognising the great import­ 
ance of this vital public health question, has endeavoured to 
obtain an enquiry regarding the prevalence of this disease and the effects 
of treatment. As the Insurance Act has wisely not deprived sufferers from 
this disease of medical benefits, an opportunity will shortly arise of ascer­ 
taining the prevalence of the disease, at any rate, in active form, among 
15 million of the population. New methods of treatment make one have 
the greatest hope of combating this scourge of the unborn millions who 
are either killed off before birth, shortly after birth, or who later suffer 
from terrible diseases of the nervous system, viz., blindness, deafness, 
idiocy, imbecility, and paralysis. It is a notifiable disease in Scandinavian 
countries, and I am informed it has recently been made notifiable in Aus­ 
tralia. Our first duty, in the hope of prevention, is the scientific study of 
the cause. This has not been barren, for one of the greatest advances 
preventive medicine has made was the discovery of the organism of 
syphilis by the biologist Schaudinn; this has led to experiments of the 
greatest value, and an outcome was a bio-chemical test whereby the syphilitic 
virus can be detected in the body, even when there are no obvious symp­ 
toms. This test enables us to detect not only the active virus, but those 
late manifestations of syphilis, locomotor ataxy, and general paralysis of 
the insane. Moreover, it confirms the view I have always maintained of the 
syphilitic origin of these two diseases. 
A sufficient time has not yet elapsed to show whether the widespread 
use of the new drug, “ 606,” introduced by Ehrlich after a long series of 
carefully contrived experiments, may not diminish the number of cases of 
this terribly fatal disease (general paralysis of the insane) and of locomotor
	        

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