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Status: Indexed

Volume 78
Number 25 CURRENT COMMENT 1967

discovered in India to be confined to women, even on
good dietaries who observed the purdah life of indoor
existence. Thus sunlight has once more been demon-
strated to be the enemy of disease.

Current Comment

TARANTULA TOXICITY

Folk-lore abounds in stories of phenomenal mani-
festations which often fail to survive the test of critical
examination. Accounts of unexpected occurrences or
unusual symptoms often grow like rolling snowballs,
adding to their size with each step in the course of
progress. Small effects may become magnified into
great ones; suspicions develop somehow into the dig-
nity of probabilities or even real facts. New traditions
seem to spring up from undiscovered sources. Some-
thing of the nature of such mystic influences may
account for the prevalent belief in the extreme danger
associated with the tarantula. The fatal bite of these
terror-inspiring insects has been widely proclaimed, so
that they are given a wide berth by those who recognize
them. The poisonous properties of various species of
spiders is admitted by competent investigators.1 Many
of the insects have poison-secreting glands which dis-
charge into the jaws. But there is little doubt that the
danger from some of them has been greatly exagger-
ated.2 Von Fürth 3 considers that the bite of the his-
torically famous Italian tarantula is able to cause no
more than local inflammation, while the toxicologist
Robert was unable to discover profoundly poisonous
properties in the supposedly more dangerous Russian
tarantula. Now the American tarantula, Eurypelma
steindachneri, a species reaching the formidable looking
adult size of more than 2 inches in length, has been
exonerated from the reputation long attaching to it,
Baerg4 of the University of Arkansas has subjected
both animals and man to attack by the fangs of active
tarantulas. Although the accounts do not give the
impression that such encounters are painless per-
formances, they are put in the category of bee sting in
severity rather than into the class of more menacing
toxins. Even bees may produce fatalities; yet they are
rarely classed among the greater dangers to life.

MEAT AND SCURVY

The fact that scurvy is not peculiarly prevalent
among the peoples of the Far North living for the most
part on animal food, who rarely have available those
vegetable products which are prized as antiscorbutics,
has been the subject of considerable discussion since the
recent renewal of interest in a long known disease.
Those investigators who have tested the protective

1. Faust, E. S.: Die tierischen Gifte, Braunschweig, 1906.

2. Wells, H. G.: Chemical Pathology, Philadelphia, W. B. Saunders
Company, 1920, p. 150.

3. Von Fürth, O.: Vergleichende chemische Physiologie der niederen
Tiere, Jena, 1903.

4. Baerg, W. J.: Regarding the Habits of Tarantulas and the Effects
of Their Poison, Scient. Mont. 14:482 (May) 1922.

power of meat against scurvy on the classic experi-
mental animal, the guinea-pig, have almost without
exception failed to demonstrate any antiscorbutic
potency in muscle tissue. Against these findings stand
the statements of Stefansson 1 that scurvy was avoided
during his arctic explorations by the use of large quan-
tities of meat from freshly killed game, the tissue
usually being eaten raw. The experimental investiga-
tions of Vedder 2 of the U. S. Army at Fort Sam
Houston, Texas, corroborate the previous guinea-pig
tests in showing that the administration of considerable
amounts of erythrocytes, voluntary muscle, heart mus-
cle and bone all failed to prevent the development of
scurvy, or even to prolong the depletion period. The
antiscorbutic factor is not present in these tissues in
appreciable quantity. On the other hand, various
viscera—the liver, lungs, spleen and pancreas—as well
as the brain evidently possess antiscorbutic powers, as
has long been known for the liver in particular. This
demonstration in respect to glandular organs may
account for native customs among tribes who live
chiefly on a meat diet. Many of them esteem the
organs as dietary tidbits. Vedder states that when the
plains Indian had been without game over a consider-
able period, he was accustomed to open the freshly killed
bison and eat handfuls of raw liver. It is stated that
the Eskimos make a special effort to secure the liver
of the seal, and that when hunters had Apache Indians
as guides, the usual bargain was for the guides to take
all the insides of the deer, leaving the meat for the
hunters. Perhaps the seemingly unusual customs
become susceptible of a plausible explanation in the
light of the newer knowledge of nutrition. Perhaps,
further, the distinction between meat, in the sense of
muscular tissues, and glandular organs such as the
liver and kidney, has not always been made by those
who have reported dietary habits in relation to human
scurvy.

SUCCESSFUL FIRST AID

“In August, 1921, a miner at Shock, Ky., was ren-
dered unconscious by electric shock. A fellow miner,
trained in first aid, immediately administered the
Schaefer method of artificial resuscitation and saved
the man’s life.” This is one of several instances of
successful first-aid treatment by fellow workmen
recently published by the Bureau of Mines in a report
of investigation. The report is a reminder that certain
knowledge and practices regarding first aid should be
more generally known by the public. Accidents occur
frequently, when physicians are inaccessible, but when
immediate assistance may be of the utmost importance,
as shown in another instance in this report. In this
case a comrade made a tourniquet of his suspenders
and stopped a hemorrhage that would have been fatal
if this immediate aid had not been rendered. These
men had been trained in first aid, and with that training

1. Stefansson, Vilhjalmur: Original Observations on Scurvy, M. Rev.
of Rev. 24: 257, 19IB; Observations oh Three Cases of Scurvy J. A.
M. A, 71: 1715 (Nov. 23) 1918.

2. Vedder, E. B.: The Etiology of Scurvy, IV, Observations Con-
cerning the Physiologic Action of the Antiscorbutic Vitaliment Mil.
Surgeon 50:534 (May) 1922.

You may have seen this already.Did you
Experience with Knight in [] the feeding
of viscera - Hanes.

O'Hanlou Bldg. W-S

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jessiesusan

Furth needs and umlaut