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countries bordering on the Mediterranean ; and if cholera ever has been or can be conveyed in rags, this course would surely seem as effective as any other to prevent it.
Your Committee is informed that at some ports of shipment no facilities have been provided for disinfecting by either of the designated processes, and at some there are no inspectors appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury to certify to the disinfection, as required by the regulation. In such cases the declaration of the shipper that the rags were not gathered in any infected port, district or country, and the certificate of local bealth authorities or other officials, that the country was free from infectious or contagious diseases, authenticated by the United States Consul, have not been sufficient to exempt the rags from disinfection by a costly process on arrival at New-York. This has occasioned much dissatisfaction.
In December, 1984, a patent was obtained for disinfecting bales of rags by means of superheated steam injected into the bale through perforated screw tubes ; and since January, 1885, this has been the only process, and apparently the only available one, used for that purpose in this port. The usual charge for disinfecting is $5 per ton, (the ton being considered equal, on an average, to about three bales,) and $1.20 per ton for lighterage to and from the place of disinfection. On a cargo of 1,000 tons this will amount to 86,200, and is equivalent to from ten to twenty per cent. of the value of the rags. This heavy tax caused great dissatisfaction among importers and paper makers, and resulted in diverting about onefourth of the entire importation destined for New York, in 1885, to other ports where such an onerous regulation and requirement did not exist. Under permits from the Treasury Department, 19,295 bales were reshipped for entry to Portland, 2,500 to NewLondon, 4,900 to Philadelphia, and 12,709 to Perth Amboy, from whence they were removed to Communipaw, opposite this City. From these points they have been distributed to paper mills throughout the country without being disinfected, and without detriment to the public health.
The regulation for disinfecting by superheated steam requires that the bale shall be subjected to it "for not less than cight minutes, and in such manner as to be heated to or above 230° Fahrenheit in every part.” It is alleged by importers that these two requirements are not fulfilled, and, therefore, that the process, as hitherto applied, has been practically worthless. Your Committee inclines to the opinion that this allegation is not entirely unfounded ; that does not, however, affect the merit of the process as a germicide, but rather indicates that it has not been carefully, faithfully and sufficiently applied. It is also alleged that the rags are injured by moisture caused by condensation of the steam, but the Committee has not pushed inquiries on that point.
Regulations which subject rags gathered in healthy countries and ports to disinfecting processes, on the supposition that they may be a medium for conveying cholera germs, do not find support in a general consensus of opinion, nor in facts of experience.
Dr. Koch, perhaps the most eminent German specialist on the subject of cholera and its germ, at the conference last summer at thie Imperial Board of Health, Berlin, said : “We know that hith-, erto cholera has never come hither by means of goods from India ;" and that “it will be found that cholera has never reached us except through human beings themselves.” And he further said : “ This question of the possibility of infection through rags was discussed in the Cholera Congresses of Vienna and Constantinople, and nobody was able to furnish a single instance of the spread of the disease by this means."
In July, 1884, Sir Charles DILKE, President of the Local Government Board, said, in the English Parliament : “ There was no instance on record of rags having conveyed cholera."
In the same Parliament, in March, 1885, Mr. G. RUSSELL, Secretary to the Local Government Board, in reply to an inquiry by Mr. LABOUCHÈRE, said: “We know of no instance of cholera being imported in rags, and we have allowed such a period to elapse since the date of the last known case of cholera in Europe, as would materially reduce any possible danger.
It does not appear that it would be further reduced by any of the customary processes of disinfection in use at English ports."
Health officers and sanitarians in the United States have expressed similar opinions. During the fifty years since 1832 we have had several visitations of cholera, and never had any regulations (so far as known to your Committee) for the disinfection of rags. We believe it is an uncontradicted fact, that there is no record of any case of cholera during this period traceable to imported rags or other merchandise.
On the other hand, there have been several opinions expressed in this country that it was possible that cholera germs might be conveyed in rags, and a case is cited in support of it. In 1867, when the cholera was epidemic in many parts of Switzerland, and especially at Zurich, it is reported that a number of cases occurred among workwomen engaged in a paper mill in a village about fifty miles from Zurich, and on investigation it was said to be found that rags went to the mill from Zurich and cholera houses.
The protection of the public health by the adoption and enforcement of proper maritime quarantine regulations to prevent, if possible, the introduction from foreign countries of infectious or contagious diseases, is, and should be, paramount to all merely commercial considerations ; but, at the same time, no unnecessary burdens, restrictions or obstructions should be imposed on commerce, trade and manufactures, and especially if they are confined to only one or two ports, instead of being general to all, for in that case trade may be diverted from one to another without accomplishing the end desired, namely, protection of the public health; for it would seem futile to expect to shut out a possible danger by closing the main door of the house and leaving the windows open.
This makes it highly important that quarantine sanitary regulations, so far as they are deemed necessary or expedient, should be
alike at all ports of entry ; and if this desirable uniformity cannot be acquired through voluntary, harmonious action of the health authorities of the several States having seaports, then, as Congress has power “to rogulate foreign commerce,” and “to provide for the general welfare,” and inasmuch as quarantine regulations are connected with foreign commerce and the administration of our custom houses, and as protection of the public health is of importance not only to particular localities, but is of equal and general concernment to all inhabitants of the country, therefore, in the opinion of your Committee, if existing laws do not, as stated in the Treasury circular of June 10th, 1885, give the National Government sufficient authority to fully control and regulate, as may be expedient from time to time, the whole subject of quarantine, Congress should be asked to enact such laws as may be necessary for that purpose.
Your Committee cannot refrain from also calling attention to the fact that, according to the census of 1880, the quantity of rags used at the paper mills in the United States was 187,917 tons, and that of this quantity more than one-half were domestic rags, i. e., rags gathered in our own country, and under circumstances and conditions not unlike those attending the gathering of old rags in foreign countries. Almost the only contagious disease that has ever appeared at paper mills in this country, and been attributed to the handling of old rags, is small-pox, and the cases of this, fortunately, are quite rare, and, in a majority of instances, are said to be traceable to domestic rags. None of our domestic rags are subjected to disinfection, or to any quarantine regulations whatever. A requirement that all persons engaged in paper mills should be vaccinated, would probably be as sure a protection against small-pox as the disinfection of rags.
The fear of danger from imported rags as being a medium for conveying contagion, and especially in relation to cholera, is probably far greater than the facts of experience justifies; but so long as such fear exists in the public mind, and in deference to it, your Committee believes it expedient that such reasonable restrictions should be imposed upon their importation as will abate that fear, and yet not to be too oppressive to the large industrial interests connected with that branch of commerce and the manufacture of paper.
This Chamber, in a resolution adopted June 4, 1885, expressed its opinion that invoices of rags accompanied by a certificate of the United States Consul that the rags were all gathered in a country free from contagious or infectious diseases, did not require to be disinfected ; and in relation to all other rags, that the proper disinfection at the place of shipment will cause the removal of all germs of disease and unhealthy consequences from the importation of rags into this country, and that the Chamber would recommend such action on the part of our Government as will require such dis
infection at the port of shipment of every invoice of rags, and that the same shall be accompanied by the certificate of the United
States Consul setting forth the fact.
As has been seen, on June 10, 1885, the Government revoked all its circulars and relegated the whole subject to the health officers of the several ports of importation.
In view of the present condition of the matter, and the difficulties and discontents that have attended it, your Committee, after hearing and reading much testimony, upon mature reflection has decided to present for consideration and action the following resolutions :
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Chamber
I. That invoices of rags accompanied by a certificate of the United States Consul that they were all gathered in a country which at that time was, and for at least six months immediately preceding had been, free from cholera, or other contagious or infectious epidemic diseases, should not be required to be disinfected either before shipment or on arrival. In the absence of such certificate, rags coming from a port or country claimed to be free from such diseases should be disinfected on arrival.
II. That rags gathered in any port or country where such discases then were, or bad been prevalent at any time within six months immediately preceding the shipment thereof, and whether such rags are exported direct, or via any other port or country, and whether landed or stored therein, or transhipped overside to another vessel for re-export, should be prohibited from being landed in the United States so long as any prohibitory order, published by the Government or health officers, remains in force ; nor when the order is rescinded should such rags be landed until disinfected on arrival.
III. That quarantine regulations in relation to rags or other merchandise, or the disinfection thereof, should be uniform at all ports of entry in the United States. Respectfully submitted. (Signed,) DANIEL DRAKE Smith, of Special
Constant A. ANDREWS, Committee. NEW-YORK, June 1, 1886.
Mr. Isaac Phillips, a member of the Committee, said he had not signed the report, although agreeing in the main with the views of his colleagues. He was opposed to the admission of rags into the United States from any foreign country without disinfection in the country of shipment, or on landing in the United States. If disinfected abroad, such disinfection should be done under the supervision of United States agents, competent men, whose certificates should be attested by consular officers of the United States at the places of shipment.
On motion of Mr. DANIEL DRAKE SMITH, the report was unanimously accepted.
Mr. CHARLES S. Smith moved that a vote be taken separately on the resolutions, and in their order.
This motion was unanimously adopted.
Mr. Smith then moved the adoption of the first resolution.
Mr. Isaac Puillips offered the following resolution, and moved its adoption as a substitute:
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Chamber, rags from any foreign country should not be brought or landed in the United States, without disinfection either at the port or place of shipment or on arrival at the port of importation, and if disinfected at the foreign port, such disinfection should be done under the supervision and inspection of an officer of the United States, appointed and paid for such special duty, whose certificate of disinfection shall be verified by a consular officer of the United States at the place of shipment.
The question was taken on this resolution, and it was lost.
The first and second resolutions recommended by the Committee were then adopted by a majority vote.
Mr. A. Foster Higgins moved that the third resolution be amended by the addition of the following: “And should be under the sole control and management of the United States Government.”
This amendment was adopted.
The third resolution, as amended, was then adopted.
On motion of Mr. DANIEL DRAKE Suitu, the report was adopted and ordered to be printed, and a copy sent to the President of the United States, to the Secretary of State and to the Secretary of the Treasury. Also, a copy to the Governor of the State of New York, to the Health Officer of the Port of New York, and to each of the Quarantine Commissioners.
Mr. A. Foster Higgins offered the following resolution, which was adopted :
Resolved, That in the adoption of the foregoing report and resolutions, it has not been intended to reflect in any degree or