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in the cold months of the year. This could easily be done by a good system of furnaces or by a good heater placed in each room with a cold air duct leading to it from outside, and a foul air register at the floor leading into the ventilating flue. A perfect system of heating and ventilating should keep a school room supplied with pure, warm air without a perceptible current and without the opening necessarily of door or window. No subject should be of greater importance to a people, than the preservation of the lives and health of their children.
The law in relation to the collection of vital and mortuary statistics appears, in some parts, to be ambiguous. Section twenty-nine, page 199, acts of 1887. This section refers to the form of blank to be used by physicians in making returns of births and deaths occurring in their practice to the county clerk. It was the understanding of the State Board of Health that all expenses incurred in the collection and recording of vital and mortuary statistics in each county should be paid for out of the county treasury. The opinion of the Attorney General is adverse to this understanding of the Board. Some of the clerks of county courts acting upon this opinion, have failed to provide for the collection of births and deaths, and give the failure of the State Board to supply them with these blanks as an excuse for their failure to comply with section twenty eight of the same act, which requires them to report to the secretary of the State Board of Health all marriages, births and deaths occurring within their respective counties. To be of value, the report of the registrar of vital statistics should embrace every county in the State.
About the first of August small-pox appeared at Stringtown, a a small village on the Ohio side of the river, opposite Sistersville, in Tyler county. The State Board was promptly notified of the fact. Quarantine was at once established against the infected district by the local board of health of Tyler county, through the advice of the State Board, and the Ohio Board of Health asked to take steps for the suppression of the outbreak, The timely action of the State and local board of health prevented the introduction into our State of this loathsome and much dreaded disease. At the earliest possible moment the quarantine was raised. Small pox has prevailed, more or less extensively, in the States of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Tennessee and Ohio since the first of the present year, but through the activity of health boards has been restricted to very small areas. Our own State has been particularly fortunate, not having had a single case during the year.
The limited appropriation for the use of the State Board of Health very materially restricts its usefulness. No question should be of more vital importance to the State than the preservation of the lives and health of her citizens. To attain the full measure of its usefulness to the people the State Board of Health should meet at least four times a year, oftener when necessary. With the means at present at the disposal of the Board it is impossible to hold more than the annual meeting without the danger of exceeding the yearly appropriation of $1,500. Questions of importance are constantly arising which have to await a whole year for a solution. More frequent meetings would enhance the value, and increase the interest in sanitary work. There is a vast field of usefulness still within reach of the Board, which we have never been able to cultivate for want of funds. Documents should be constantly on hand for distribution among the people in seasons of epidemics, teaching them the best means of prevent. ing and suppressing outbreaks of typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever and other .symotic diseases. The State should be represented in the “National Conference of State Boards of Health," but our laws make no provision for the expense. The collection of vital statistics bas increased the expenses of the State Board fully $400.00 without any increase in the appropriation for the use of the Board, which remains the same as in 1882, when the act was passed. Other States, more particularly those of the Northwest, are making rapid progress in the preservation of the public health, and in stamping out the preventable diseases, why should not West Virginia be in the front ranks.
We sincerely hope the next Legislature may see the necessity for increasing the appropriation of the State Board of Health from $1,500 to $2,500.
It has been the special effort of the Board to direct popular attention to the value of pure water for drinking and culinary purposes, and to impress upon them the danger of using impure water, especially in times of epidemics. It is believed by many persons that running waters are freed by oxidation from all injurious pollution, such as sewage, the dejection of disease, decaying vegitable or animal matter, manure from cultivated lands washed into rivers after periodical rainfalls and the like. But such oxidation has been observed by those who are competent to judge, to be very slow. Disease germs have been known to be carried by polluted waters for many miles unchanged, becoming apparent by their specific injurious effect. It has lieen approximately ascertained that a flow of 200 miles or more is necessary to free waters by oxidation from the impurities mentioned. Whether these conditions are fulfilled in the case of our rivers may be inferred from their topography, the distance between cities lining their banks, and such other sources mentioned, as more or less action in modifying or polluting water supplies. The true basis for judging of the purity of water is by chemical analysis and microscopical examination. Very precise analytical methods have been devised for ascertaining the mineral constituents of potable water, which are found nearly the same in all, varying in quantity, and unless in excess not injurious to the system, except the rare and usually avoidable metallic contamination, such as that from lead pipe, &c., it is to the quantity, and especially to the quality of the organic matter present in water that its unwholesomeness is due, and to determine this with extreme precision, then, would seem to be of paramount importance.
A single and sufficiently delicate test to form an opinion, or to ascertain whether a given specimen of water may be used for drinking or culinary purposes, is a modification of the familiar permanganate of potass test. “W. E. Stobles, of London, found that by adding hydrate of potass. of proper strength to the permanganate the albuminoid matter, which passed unchallenged by the permanganate alone, was thereby brought under its influence. The proportion he recommends are as follows: Potass. permanganate
I p. Potass. hydrate
4 p. Distill water
If a minimum of this solution be added to distilled water in a glass or test tube, the beautiful pink color imparted to the water will remain unchanged for several days. but if similarly ap. plied to water containing the slightest trace of organic matter there will be a brownish precipitate, with loss or entire discharge of the color of the test solution. Numerous comparation experiments have shown that if such reaction takes place within a. few hours the quantity of organic matter present is such as to be injurious to health,
The number of persons granted certificates to practice medicine and surgery since the printing of the last report is 168. One hundred and thirty-nine graduates, twenty-seven ten-year practitioners and four examined.
That section of the law allowing certificates to all persons who had practiced medicine in the State ten years continuously prior to 1881, is giving the Board no end of trouble, nearly, if not all entitled to register under this statute, are in possession of certificates, and if not are hardly entitled to recognition at this late day. The Board most earnestly urges the repeal of that portion of the statute relating to practioners of ten years prior to 1881.
I herewith submit the transactions of the State Board of Health for the years 1887-88. The report on vital statistics and certain other papers relating to public health, which I hope you may deem of sufficient importance to publish.
N. D. BAKER, Secretary State Board of Ilealth..
OCTOBER 1, 1886, TO SEPTEMBER 31, 1887.
Jan. 4, Salary.
Expense to Pt. Pleasant................
DR. G. M’DONALD. 1887. July 28, Expenses to Charleston................
4, Per diem.
DR. A. R. BARBEE. 1886. July 28, Experses to Charleston....... ............
Two days services...........................................................................
Postage and expressage................ 1887. July 28, Four days attendance.................