October 27, 1877, was called in consultation with Dr. Gulick, at Watkins, N. Y. Found the place passing through a very severe epidemic of diphtheria. Every person that had been attacked, forty in number, had died, and four were lying dead that day. Every physician of all schools had lost one or more. The homœopathic physician to whom I was called in consultation, a man of age, ability and large experience, expressed himself thus : “Doctor, I am on my knees to anybody who can help me.” One child had already died in the family to which I was called, and this second one was apparently well on the way to the same end.
Girl, age 14 years, light hair, blue eyes, nervous temperament. Had been sick several days. Looking into the throat I found the tonsils and uvula greatly swollen ; the tonsils so much so that the throat was almost completely closed and the uvula hanging (very much elongated and looking like a bag of water) down in front of and against them. The whole throat presented a decidedly œdematous appearance. Both tonsils were patched with yellowish membrane, with a ring of the same around the uvula. Breath exceedingly offensive. There was stopping of the nose (the breathing could be heard across two large rooms), swallowing was almost impossible on account of the great pain, which streaked up into both ears ; there was prostration, restlessness with tossing about, sleeplessness, pulse 130, skin alternately hot and dry, and then perspiring profusely (very characteristic of Apis).
Here was a case in which one remedy was clearly and perfectly indicated. The doctor had used Bell., Merc. prot. and other remedies which had served him well in previous epidemics. But they were of no use here for the simple reason that the two epidemics were no alike, and different remedies indicated.
Apis 6th was given once in two hours, with the effect of reducing the pulse to 100 in six hours, and checking the progress of the whole disease at once, which improvement continued until complete recovery without sequelæ.
This was the remedy for the genus epidemicus and cured all cases in which it was used but one, which received it too late.
A case just across the road (in which home one had also died) received the same remedy in the 200th dilution, and made a rapid recovery. Another case was attacked, and the good doctor, who I imagine felt a little chagrined because he had not found the then comparatively new remedy (Apis), came across the account of Dr. Von Villiers’ success with Mercurius cyanuret, and showed it to the family, proposing to try that. They objected, saying that the other remedy had cured, why try a new one. But the doctor persisted, saying the would be responsible. Gave it and lost his case. He could never forgive himself, nor could the family. I relate this to impress upon all that no matter what success a remedy may have had in the past, the indications must be there or it cannot succeed. Jahr praised Apis in his “Forty Years Practice.” Fetterhoff, of Pennsylvania, confirmed it in an epidemic there. During this epidemic in Watkins the 6th, 30th and 200th dilutions were equally successful.
No remedy has such rapid and intense œdema of the throat as Apis. Kali bichromicum has œdema of uvula, but the two remedies have not much in common.