No. 305.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Evarts.

No. 672.]

Sir: It is a relief to be able to say that from all advices the Asiatic cholera has happily disappeared from Japan.

[Page 482]

In my No. 629, of date the 19th of September last, I acquainted you that this pestilence had appeared in Yokohama, 20 miles distant from this city. It is safe to state that about one-half of the persons attacked by the disease died, and that within the past two months eleven hundred persons died by this scourge in Nagasaki and its vicinity, an equal number in Osaka and Kioto (or Saikio), and about one thousand in Yokohama, Tokei, and vicinity. Of the loss of life from this cause in the country at large, I am not advised.

In the division of this city in which our legation is located, known as Tsukidji, there were but six deaths from cholera, which is in my opinion largely attributable to the fact that upon the first appearance of the plague in this location a board of health was organized, and its measures promptly enforced by this government, upon the request of my colleagues and myself. I regret to say that a Mr. Perry, his wife, and two children, American citizens resident here, were attacked by the disease, and that Mr. Perry and one of his children died. I solicited and obtained a place for their burial in this city. His wife and surviving child were provided for, chiefly by private contributions, and sent home to San Francisco, where their family friends reside. It would seem from the results of the efforts of the health boards of this city of a million of people, that the Asiatic cholera may be arrested by the prompt and liberal use of such disinfectants as carbolic acid, and by a careful regimen, thorough cleanliness, and the prompt removal of all impure matter from the vicinity of dwellings.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of an article on the subject from the Japan Daily Herald of this date (inclosure 1). I have no doubt the disease came from India to China and thence to Japan. I trust it may not find its way to America or Europe.

It seems to me not improper that I should again call the attention of the Department to the need of an appropriation of a few thousand dollars to be used as occasion may require, under the direction of the State Department, for the relief in case of sickness, or for the burial in case of death, of destitute citizens of the United States not in the merchant or naval service, who may in foreign lands suffer from disease or die. In my No. 212, of date the 6th of April, 1875, I brought this subject to the notice of the Department, and beg leave respectfully to refer you thereto.

I have, &c., &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 672.]

disappearance of the cholera.

The cholera reports for the last week warrant us in the belief that this epidemic has now been stamped out; its visit has lasted fully two months, and according to the Mainichi Shimbun the total number of cases in Yokohama and its vicinity up to the 12th instant were 1,128, the deaths 635, the recoveries 446, and 47 patients remain still under treatment.

Whence came this unwelcome visitation? Some are of opinion that its progress may be traced from India over the Straits Settlement to China, Amoy, and Nagasaki; others will have it that the state of the southern part of the province of Kiushiu was, toward the close of the rebellion, of such a nature as to be itself sufficient to breed a pest. Is Japan the limit of its progress, or is it now traveling eastward across the Pacific, the germs imbedded, may be, in a bale of goods, or in the contents of a passenger’s trunk? It has been mentioned in a contemporary that, according to professional opinion, this visit of cholera in Japan is only a preliminary one, to be followed next year by the whole force of the enemy.

[Page 483]

We presume to think that the causes and nature of the epidemic are as yet not sufficiently known to enable medical men to forecast its future movements with any degree of certainty. But in one respect it behooves us to act as if a repetition of the epidemic, increased too in severity, were a certainty; the pest-house must be built now, and thus be ready for an emergency that may arise at any time. It is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that if the cholera this time had been of its wonted virulence, and had attacked resident foreigners generally, we should for some time have been in the direst confusion and perplexity where to receive and properly treat the patients. But whether cholera returns upon us next summer or not, the appearance of small-pox during the winter months impending may be looked for, and there is now no small-pox hospital for the reception of patients. The community will neglect taking precautions for its own safety if it omits making provision for a pest-house or hospital for the treatment of cases of epidemic disease of a virulent and dreaded character. We trust to the members of the board of health, now that the cholera has abated, bestirring themselves in this matter.