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304 REPORT OF THE LEPROSY COMMISSION:
poorest provinces. Defective hygiene, exposure to hardships
and privations, filthy dwellings and want of personal cleanliness
cannot be said to predispose to leprosy more than to any other
disease of like nature. They necessarily must aggravate and
accelerate it, when it is once established; and for this reason,
where they exist, require improvement.2
Diet.
The next question to be considered is the important one
of diet. Since the earliest days in the history of leprosy the
greatest influence in the aetiology of the disease has been
attributed to defective or bad dietetic conditions. In turn al-
most every foodstuff has been accused. In ancient medical
history the eating of certain kinds of fish, fresh or decayed,
was considered of great importance, and this opinion has per-
sisted to the present day. Too much or too little animal or
vegetable food has also been held responsible for the origin of
the disease, or specific predisposition to the same. This
influence of diet was naturally as keenly disputed by others.
That food should have a specific effect in the tiology of
a chronic disease is priori quite within the bounds of pos-
sibility. No one who believes in the infective nature of leprosy
would of course assume food to be a final exciting cause, for it
is implied in the term "infective disease" that this must be a
parasitic organism. It must be remembered, however, that
when these various food-theories were propounded, the bacillus
had not been discovered, and that, therefore, the views of
many of the older authors would not be misrepresented, by
stating that they claimed for diet only a direct effect in the
establishment of a specific predisposition.
Certain forms of diet are capable of producing grave
morbid conditions, as, e.g., Lathyrus sativus and Ergot;
others, on the other hand, cause more general changes in the
(2) Cf. R. Liveing: op. cit., pages 76 and 77.

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