stefansson-wrangel-09-40-004-007a

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Status: Indexed

Scurvy 7

advanced in the process of ordinary putriefaction
seems to be as good an anti-scorbutic as fresh
flesh, or nearly so - witness Andersen’s case
above and the well-known fact that Eskimo
tribes often live for several months in succesion
on putrid meat or fish without ever developing
scurvy, while Eskimos working for white men or
living on purchased provisions have it quite
as readily as Europeans living on the same
sort of diet.

(4) Bodily cleanlines and ventilation
are not by any facts known to me shown to have
any bearing on the incidence or severity of
scurvy. Here it is instructive to compare
the filth and good health of Nansen and Johansen
as described in "Farthest north” with the immaculate
Scott expeditions with their numerous and serious
scurvy cases.

(5) . Exercise does not prevent scurvy.

I have been told, verbally, that the Scott
party had it on the return from the Pole -
after months of continuous and strenuous
work in the purest of pure air and in aboundant,
continuous sunshine; while Nansen and Johansen
were in perfect health after a winter of the
most afcx nearly absolute inactivity ever
known to me to have been described in a book
of travel. These are not isolated but
kjcpieai'f x±axtxKsaaxx instances, but typical.

(6) Salt, while not proven by anything
I know to be a case of scurvy, probably has
some direct bearing on the history of the
disease, for tre following reasons: (a) Salt
meats have long been recognised (and probably
rightly) as predisposing to scurvy. (b) Many
observers have commented on the hankering for
salt by scurvy patients and on the disappearance
of the longing as the cure proceeds

Niether am I certain that salt did not
co-operate with heat in lessening the anti-scorbutic
value of the meat used by four of our eight
scurvy cases. The only death and the only
long and dragging recoveries were men who
ate their meat cooked. This was at winter
camps which, while they belonged to our
expedition, were not at the time under my
personal observance and I have the stories on
hearsay.

(7) It is a mistake to think (with most
laymen and many physicians) that blackening of
the skin of the leg and softening of the calf
muscles are among the early symptoms in nearly
all cases. I have never seen either symptom,
and in the cases I have hearrd of from reliable
observers, these symptoms, if they appeared,
appeared late in the disease. Dizziness on
standing up and bleeding from the gums are
commonly among the earliest symptoms noted by
the sick man himself, tho it may be right that
careful tests would disclose other symptoms
earlier.

Vilhjalmur
Stefansson
,
Harvard Club
New York City.

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