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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 3, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(9):1144. doi:10.1001/jama.291.9.1144-b

In the onward march of medical progress there come frequent warnings against established customs, and we are admonished that this or that habit is exceedingly dangerous, and we accordingly mend our ways. These behests of science not infrequently meet remonstrance, in spite of the columns of statistics, bacteriologic slides and case histories. For some time we have boiled the water that we drink, now we must boil the water in which we bathe. An Indian confrère1 warns against the careless practice of bathing in typhoid-laden water, and declares that access to the mucous cavities during immersion is comparatively easy to the little bacteria. To treat the matter seriously, here is a real danger, much greater in India, perhaps, and wherever water is badly infected, but a present danger in all typhoid-infected water. Just how much possibility of infection there may be in the entrance of a few ounces of water into mucous cavities will depend on the virulence of the germs and the resistance of the system. If we approve the warnings to wash raw vegetables in boiled water, to use pure ice, to brush the teeth in boiled water, it naturally follows that to be perfectly consistent and safe one must bathe in water that has been boiled.

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