The Present Status of the Treatment of Pneumonia

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The past two decades have shown remarkable progress in our understanding and treatment of many of the common infectious diseases. While formerly, numerous cases of typhoid fever were seen, this disease has become almost a rarity owing to better sanitation and the use of vaccine. The incidence and mortality of diphtheria have been greatly reduced by the widespread prophylactic and therapeutic use of antitoxin. Scarlet fever appears to have assumed a less virulent form and its severity has been lessened by the recent development of a specific antitoxin.

Pneumonia, however, continues its deadly work in much the same fashion as it did fifty years ago. Musser and Louis in a paper twenty years ago remarked, “The historical consideration of the treatment of pneumonia offers a gloomy retrospect, the sombre hue of which is not much lightened by the contemplation of the present. Ever since the days of antiquity, pneumonia has been observed and studied while one method of treatment after another has been vaunted with enthusiasm, only to be abandoned in despair, the disease meanwhile pursuing the even tenor of its way with scant respect for the methods employed against it.” Pneumonia is still responsible for approximately 10 per cent of the deaths in most communities, the most reliable statistics showing a mortality rate varying from 20 to 35 per cent. It spares neither age nor sex and is no respecter of persons. The lobular form especially claims as its victims many in the early years of life, and in. . .