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Newspaper Page Text
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By Leonard Keene Hirschberg,
A. M"., M. D.
With the possible exception of
earthquakes there is nothing that
frightens a young mother more
than' the hard, dry, metallic-like
cough, erroneously called 'croup'.
It scares the parent more, and the
doctor less, than any other symp-'
torn known to medicine.
Like other mistakes ter,ms such
as "colds," "colic," and "rheu
matism," the expression "croup"
is the quack's or layman's cloak
for a multitude of diagnostic sins.
"Croup" actually as a disease
exists only in the minds of the
misguided, It is the symptom of
several harmless maladies, and of
only ope, diphtheriathat in days
gone by could be called danger
ous. Until the discovery of diph
theria anti-toxin, which has re
duced the death rate of this dread
trouble, from its last centttry toll
of ninety, to the present five in
every hundred cases, the word
"croup," justly strqck terror to $
For before the days of the de
partments of health, before bac
teria wer handled and recogniz
ed as tangible facts, the tight, dry
membranous coughs with ihc
choking mucous of living, malig
nant diphtheria germs, were in
distinguishable from other nd
The distracted mother of that"
day felt the knell of doom at the
Very suspicion of -"croup," To
her then it meant, either death'
mechanically by choking the in
fant with the Jaryngeal mem
brane, or paralysis and death .
from the malignant diphtheria.
Since 1895, when anti-diphtheria
serum came into practical
use, the medical man has breath
ed easier at the most gruesome
Nine times in ten, the baby
awakening from sound sleep with'
-that menacing, quick, sharp bark,
has either been breathing through
an open mouth, in a room witft
hot, dry air; has enlarged tonsils
and adenoids; is exposed to chill
ing current of air ;has-a catarrhal
spasm of the throat muscles; is
having the first coughs of bron
chitis or whooping cough or is
lying on his back and has allowed
a relaxed tongue to'fall a bit back
wards onto the palate.
The membranous croup ol
years ago has finally and for all
time proved to have been due tq.
the diphtheria bacillus.
Therefore today, when a child
begins in the morning with hoars
ness which grows worse as thq
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