Dr. Roger I. Lee '02, Professor of Hygiene, describes in the current Alumni Bulletin the various ways in which the University is working upon the problem of student health. The precautions taken against infantile paralysis were such that although the University started on time last fall, there was but one case of the disease. This particular student had been frequently away from Cambridge and the source of infection was unknown.
For the third year all Freshmen were given a physical examination; the results this year showing a remarkable similarity to those of the past two classes. An innovation this year was the introduction of a special study of posture and of feet. About 75 per cent. of the Freshmen stood poorly.
Milk, dairy supplies, and water at the various University dining halls have been subject to a rigid inspection in order to insure a safe supply of these products. In addition, the food supplies and methods of service have been carefully investigated.
Dr. Lee's complete report follows:
"At the beginning of the college year the particular health problem that was uppermost in the thoughts of everyone was the prevalence of infantile paralysis. After careful consideration and consultation with various experts, not only of the University but also of the state and the country, the University was opened on schedule.
Many Precautions Against Epidemic.
"Considerable precautions, however, were taken. Each student in the College was required to fill out a blank, giving the details of his residence and possible exposure. The wide publicity of this measure prevented a considerable number of students from registering until after the accepted quarantine period. Thus, as far as transmission by contact was concerned, the students were protected as well as possible. Since it is not known just how infantile paralysis is spread, precautions were taken against all other possible methods of transmission. For example rats have been accused as carriers of the disease, and before the opening of College a vigorous campaign against rats was undertaken. Another suggested method of spread was in raw milk, therefore the milk in all of the University dining halls at the training tables and, as far as possible, in all the eating places in Cambridge was pasteurized. Furthermore, a general circular of information was issued through the CRIMSON.
Only One Case of Paralysis.
"One case of infantile paralysis occurred in the student body. The particular student had been frequently away from Cambridge and the source of infection was a mystery. With the occurrence of that case all reasonable precautionary measures to prevent spread were taken and no other cases developed. In connection with this case it was a source of great satisfaction to the University authorities and of great benefit to the students that we could call upon the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission of experts who assisted not only in the diagnosis but also in the prompt treatment of the case.
All Freshmen Examined.
"The examination of Freshmen has now been completed for the third year. The results of this examination shows a surprising similarity each year. The same percentage of boys are found with damaged hearts, with albumen in the urine, etc., each year.
"Our increasing experience has strongly confirmed the desirability of the examination. It has also emphasized what was pointed out as one of the important results of the first examination, namely, that the physical examination enabled the examiner to convince a goodly number of students, who in some fashion or other conceived that they had organic defects, that in reality they were organically sound and normal.
"Our experience with the continued supervision and advice of the group of boys who furnish some problem at the time of their examination has been eminently satisfactory. Many of these students could not have been reached in any other way than by a physical examination. In general the Freshmen have represented in each year splendid types of promising young manhood.
Special Study of Posture.
"A rather novel feature of the examination was undertaken this year. Dr. Lloyd T. Brown '08, an expert orthopedist saw each student and subjected him to critical study from the point of view of posture and of feet. This study was undertaken mainly to furnish a basis for possible recommendations and advice in order to overcome the increasing prevalence in later adult life of a wide variety of ailments associated with faulty posture, back strain and foot strain.
"It was found that approximately 75 per cent. of the Freshmen stood poorly and therefore might be regarded as possible candidates for the subsequent evils dependent upon faulty posture. Where-ever possible simple directions were given for the correction of this fault. On the other hand 88 per cent. of the Freshmen presented themselves with good sound feet. In this field it is easy to see a splendid opportunity for improving the physical equipment of the students.
Food at Dining Halls Inspected.
"We are continuing one very important activity in the protection of student health which deserves more space than it is possible to give here. Mr. Melville C. Whipple, instructor in Sanitary Engineering, has been acting for the past year as Sanitary Inspector. Mr. Whipple makes frequent and complete examinations of the milk and other dairy products that are used in the University dining halls (Memorial, Foxcroft and the Freshman Halls), at the Stillman Infirmary and at the Varsity Club. These examinations have insured a safe supply of pure products. The water used is examined almost daily.
"In addition Mr. Whipple has inspected the various other food supplies, methods of service and in general made frequent sanitary examinations of all of the conditions under which foed is served. We now undertake, as far as possible, to examine all food handlers for the presence of contagious disease. We hope to extend this sanitary investigation as time goes on. Only luck of funds limits the extension of careful sanitary examination to all of the places where the students eat. This work, under the general supervision of Professor George C. Whipple, but carried on in this department, promises great benefit to the welfare of the student and is slowly being extended in accordance with fairly definite plans."