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3 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections




Tho Chief Health Officer (Dr. J. S. C. Elkington) was in his office yester- day, having returned from Sydney, where he represented this State at the Conference of Health Officers convened to report on the Danysz microbe. He explained to a representativo of "Tho .Mercury" that the conference consider- ed in all four questions - two proposed by the Commonwealth Government, and the other two submitted by the New South Wales Government. The conforence had furnished replies to both sets of questions, but he was in a position to give information with re- gard only to the questions referred to the conference by the New South Wales Government. The replies to the other questions were confidential.

Report to the Premier of New

South Wales.

The report furnished to the Premier for New South Wales is as follows : -- "The questions referred by you for con- sideration of the conference were (1) Whether there is any objection to ex- periments being made in an enclosed space on the mainland with what is known as the Yalgogrin microbe, from the point of view of possible infection of other forms of life? (2) Whether the development of any efficient agent of rabbit destruction may be hoped for as the result of such experiments? The conference met at the Commonwealth Offices, Sydney on Monday, February 10, and succeeding days till the 13th. The conference had before it the fol- lowing sources of evidence:-(1) Re- ports by Dr. Danysz, dated December 20, 1906, and April 27. 1907. (2) Re- ports by Dr. Tidswell, dated September 24, 1906. and November 16, 1907. (3)

Information supplied by Dr. Tidswell in response to inquiries by members of the conference, which amplified and ex- plained these reports. (4) Cultures and microscopical preparations of the microbes with which the conference was concerned, viz.. those known as the Danysz, Yalgogrin, Gundagai, and Pic- ton microbes. (5) Personal observa- tions by the members of the confer- ence of the process and effects of ex- perimental inoculation of healthy rab- bits by hypodermic, endermic, and na- sal methods, with blood and cultures containing the microbe of the virus proposed by Dr. Danysz, and of three other strains isolated respectively from rabbits captured at Yalgogrin, Gun- dagai, and Picton. The conference having considered the evidence, sub- mits the subjoined statements in reply to your questions: -

"Question 1-'Whether there is any objection to experiments boing made in an enclosed space on the mainland with what is known as the Yalgogrin microbe, from the point of view of pos- sible infection of other forms of animal

life? The conference desires to point out that the evidence as regards infec- tivity under natural conditions of ani- mals other than rabbits is, so far, nega- tive; but it recognises that the value of such negative evidence depends di- rectly upon the extent and variety of available facts. The conference feels that this may be a ground upon which the question of further experiments can

be regarded as worthy of serious scien-   tific consideration; but, in view of its   finding on the subsequent question (q.v.), there does not appear to the con- ference to be any other substantial rea- son for prolonging the work. Neverthe- less, the conference does not desire to formulate positive objections; but if,   for any reason, the State Government decide upon making experiments in an enclosed space on the mainland of New South Wales with the Yalgogrin mi- crobe, the conference would urge that such experiments should be conducted directly by the Government; and, fur- ther, as the interests of the whole of Australia are involved, it would sug- gest that the Governments of the other States should, in the first instance, be informed of the conditions proposed, and be afforded an opportunity of ex- pressing their views with respect to


"Question 2-'Whether tho develop- ment of any efficient agent of rabbit destruction may be hoped for as tho re- sult of such experiments?. The confer- ence finds that at present there is no evidence that the virus is likely to prove an effective destroyer of rabbits living under natural conditions. In relation to this question, it has weigh- ed the epidemiological considerations bearing upon Dr. Danysz's contentions that the conditions of climate and soil upon Broughton Island are special, and that on the mainland, by the help of different climatic conditions, the dis- ease will be more contagious than on   the island. The conference has not found, either in Dr. Danysz's report or elsewhere, any justification for these assertions. On tho other hand, tho conferenco finds that upon Broughton Island tho behaviour of the disease was in accordanco with its known natural history, and sees no reason to expect that any material variation therefrom would bo exhibited by it in any other part of Australia. The conference would point out that, notwithstanding that tho disease has existed on the

mainland for many years, tho rabbits have continued to flourish, and this fact is sufficient to show that tho virus will not extensively disseminate of its own accord. Further, tho deliberate attempts to destroy rabbits living un- der natural conditions upon Broughton Island wore unsuccessful ; hence there is nothing to show that tho disease can be made effective for rabbit destruction by any practicable means. In view of these facts, tho conference considers that there is no ground for hope that an effective agent for rabbit destruc- tion would be developed from tho ex- periments with the microbe under con- sideration. (Signed) Frank Tidswell, M.B., Ch.M.. D.P.H.; W. Ramsay Smith. D.Sc. M.B., C.M., F.R.S.E. ; B. Burnett Ham, M.D., M.R.C.S., D.P.H. ; J. S. C. Elkington,, M.D., D.P.H. : W. Perrin Norris, M.D., Ch.B.. D.P.H.; Thomas H. Lovegrove, M.R.C.S.E.