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August 28, 1909


JAMA. 1909;LIII(9):720-721. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.02550090056006

The fly has from time immemorial been endured as a necessary scavenger. This it is, but a scavenger necessary only to those unaccustomed to reasonable and adequate cleanliness. While on the one hand the fly removes putrefying substances, on the other it distributes material at least as pathogenic—much tuberculous material, the virus of cholera, of tetanus, of trachoma, and of anthrax. It is certainly more than a coincidence that infant mortality is greatest in fly time. Milk is a very fair culture medium for bacteria, and amidst the uncleanliness obtaining in many families among the poor, it easily becomes contaminated with the excreta of flies and with the germs clinging to their feet. One fly was found thus to be the host for a hundred thousand fecal bacteria; "and it was on its way to the nearest milk pitcher." It is now generally agreed that the dysenteries and the diarrheas