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Part 4

In many cases erysipelas, from some obvious cause, such as an accident, and sometimes from even a very small wound, broke out all over the body, especially, in persons about sixty[p. 130] years of age, about the head, if such an accident was neglected in the slightest degree; and this happened in some who were under treatment; great inflammation took place, and the erysipelas quickly spread all over. in the most of them abscessed ended in suppurations, and there were great fallings off (sloughing) of the flesh, tendons, and bones; and the defluxion which seated in the part was not like pus, but a sort of putrefaction, and the running was large and of various characters. Those cases in which any of these things happened about the head were accompanied with falling off of the hairs of the head and chin, the bones were laid bare and separated, and there were excessive runnings; and these symptoms happened in fevers and without fevers. But these things were more formidable in appearance than dangerous; for when the concoction in these cases turned to a suppuration, most of them recovered; but when the inflammation and erysipelas disappeared, and when no abscess was formed, a great number of these died. In like manner, the same things happened to whatever part of the body the disease wandered, for in many cases both forearm and arm dropped off; and in those cases in which it fell upon the sides, the parts there, either before or behind, got into a bad state; and in some cases the whole femur and bones of the leg and whole foot were laid bare. But of all such cases, the most formidable were those which took place about the pubes and genital organs.1 Such was the nature of these cases when attended with sores, and proceeding from an external cause; but the same things occurred in fevers, before fevers, and after fevers. But those cases in which an abscess was formed, and turned to a suppuration, or a seasonable diarrhea or discharge of good urine took place, were relieved thereby: but those cases in which none of these symptoms occurred, but they disappeared without a crisis, proved fatal. The greater number of these erysipelatous cases [p. 131]took place in the spring, but were prolonged through the summer and during autumn.

1 The classical reader will here call to his recollection a striking passage in the celebrated description of the Plague of Athens, as given by Thucydides: "For the mischief, being at first seated in the head, spread over the whole body, and if one survived the most formidable symptoms, an attack on the extremities manifested itself; for it was determined to the genital organs and to the hands and feet, and many escaped with losing them, and some with the loss of their eyes." (ii., 49.)

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