The Boston Evening Record in its issue of Aug, 15th gives prominence to an article concerning the health conditions of Norwood, which has been taken both good-naturedly and seriously by those of our citizens whose attention has been called to the article. To one who is in and out among the people as much as a newspaper reporter, the article seems of a highly sensational sort, calculated to alarm a community in which there has been considerable sickness of late that might with propriety be classed with the typhus forms of disease; but there has not been manifested that acute alarm which would follow a lew cases of diphtheria or scarlet fever. The faces of the people do not carry a long-drawn-out, anxious expression; on the contrary, people are disposed to laugh at the idea of a typhoid epidemic. They say: “Have you heard of any new cases ?”
“Yes,” is the answer, “such a one has the walking typhoid,’ another the ‘laughing typhoid,’ another ‘football typhoid.’” Some say they do not believe there are more than one or two cases of the genuine typhoid fever in town. At the same time there is a serious side to the question and it is the duty of the board of health to go to the root of the matter, as we believe they have done to the best of their knowledge and ability.
It can scarcely be maintained that there is nothing vital in the Record’s article, as it contains the statements of three of our local physicians, whose wisdom and sagacity are not questioned. There is a general feeling, however, that they may be mistaken as to the source from which the present widespread sickness in Norwood springs. Here are the statements of Dr. Norton , chairman of the board of health, Dr. Plimpton, Dr. Hurley and Mr. Bateman :
Dr. Norton said : “We have a number of cases of typhoid fever in town.
“Yes, over 30 cases at the present lime, but I hope the maximum is reached, and that we now have thesource under control.
“The cause was undoubtedly impure milk. Every case so far reported has been drinking the milk from one dealer.
“This dealer has purchased part of his supply from a farm on which there is a well that contains typhoid germs. This we have demonstrated by analyzing.
“ Way back last winter this man was warned and the supply stopped from his place.
“Now we have notified him to stop even making butter from his milk.”
“Then you attribute all the typhoid; fever in your town to this source of your milk supply?”
“We do and so does the state board of health. If it had been from our water supply we should have had hundreds of cases scattered all over the town. As it is, in every case milk has been supplied by one milkman. We have traced his supply and have found the germs in a well of a milk raiser. Now we have shut off any further chance of contagion by shutting down the farm, butter and all. If this does not prove enough we will fill in the well at his expense.”
Dr. L. H. Plimpton said a few minutes later: “I have .now 27 cases of typhoid fever, all of which have taken or used milk supplied by one man. Among the men who supply the local dealer is a farmer who has a well that shows undoubted signs of typhoid germs. This farmer has been stopped from selling any milk or any milk product.”
Dr. Plimpton was a pretty tired man as he acknowledged to four nights without rest, but he went over the conditions of the water supply, and showed according to his experience that if that had been contaminated there would have been 1000 cases, and those scattered in the town.
Dr. Plimpton also had the experience of the examiners who visited Buckmaster pond, the water supply, last Sunday to refer to. Yet he would not place the blame on the farm complained of.
Dr. D. M. Hurley said: “I have three genuine cases of typhoid fever and one case I class on the doubtful list. My first case dates back to July 20. Where the trouble lies I cannot say. Last year ‘Buckmaster pond, our water supply, dropped down to about one-third its normal depth. That may have been responsible for what is now an epidemic of typhoid fever. It is generally attributed to the milk supply, however. There is no doubt but that every case so far reported has in one way or another used milk that came from one man’s delivery. We are all doing our best to assist Dr. Walcott, and 1 only hope the maximum has been reached in the 30 odd cases we have already reported and those we shall report to-morrow.’’
Back across a meadow, about a mile and a half from East Walpole, is the farm of William Bateman. This is the farm complained of and Bateman has received notice, as he put it late last night:—
“From the board of health, that is bigger than the selectmen, not to sell milk, and from the state board of health, that is bigger than both, not to sell milk.”
Mr. Bateman has seven cows and a heifer. His maximum output in the past has been 10 cans of 8 quarts and a pint a day. His present output is about 5 cans. The farm is a big one, with a single well. This is situated about 200 feet southeast of the house. The barn is still further away to the northwest, and both house and barn apparently drain on the other side of the drive from the well. There are two springs on the farm, and Trap Hole brook intersects it.
Here is Bateman’s story: “I have lived here 31 years. I have a 2-year-old boy and a wife. We have never had any sickness. My child, my wife, my mother and I all have used the water out of the well. So did my grandparents before me. We use and have always used the milk we raise. I drank water out of that well today, and not a cow on the place has drank a drop of the well water since last spring. This simply because they have been out at pasture with the brook and two springs to drink from, and the fact that the well has never given enough water in the summer for my cattle.
“I have asked the board of health to test the springs and Trap Hole brook. The brook is a preserved trout stream, and ought to be pure.
“Ever since the board of health warned me about the well the water has not even been used to wash cans. I have hung cans down in it to cool the milk, but there has not been water enough in the well since last May to pump over a quart or two at any one time. I cleaned the well out last Sunday. There was nothing in the bottom except grave. The lower six feet of the well runs through rock. All this can be proved. Perhaps that well is full of typhoid fever.. I don’t contradict the learned men who have shut off my entire means of living. But in this section people have used the water and my milk and we never have had a case of typhoid. I shall follow all orders of the authorities to the letter, come what may.”