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April, the temperature is, on the average, about 10° cooler; that is, the mercury indicates from 84° to 86° every day, very rarely indeed lower than 84°, though if the dry land breezes are blowing, as they often are, the mercury runs up sometimes to 90° and even higher.
All this is true of Port au Prince, of which experienced naval officers have said that there is no more beautiful or better site for a seaboard city anywhere. But it is, as already indicated, notoriously one of the hottest places in the West Indies. It stands at the head of a great bay hemmed in by Gonaïve Island on one side, and on the other by the shore running down from the Môle St. Nicolas, while back of it and on either side of it, are ranges of mountains, so that it is not as open, as most other seaboard cities of the Antilles are, to the full sweep of the breezes. At Cape Haitien and all along the northern coasts, as well as in other localities, it is cooler than at the capital. Of course, as one goes higher up in the mountains the intense heat of the seaboard becomes moderated. A ride of 6 miles up the mountain side from Port au Prince will reach La Coupe or Petionville, a beautiful retreat about 1,400 feet above the sea, where a very few degrees of lower heat seem quite refreshing. And at Turey (more than 1,600 feet above the sea), only part of a day's ride higher up than Petionville, Americans and Europeans have often been heard to complain of the cold at night, though even there the mercury never falls below 45° F. So that, altogether, it is not now thought that a residence in the island is either dangerous or unhealthful for foreigners on account of the heat. Indeed, it is believed that it would be easy, owing to the mountainous character of the country, to hit upon localities there which would be more strengthening and more health-giving to northerners of weakly constitutions and impaired vitality than any of the places now frequented by them during the winter months either in the tropics or elsewhere in the South. It has already been predicted that Haiti will some day
become a popular winter resort. If a foreigner will install himself a mile or two back from the seacoast and observe the ordinary rules of health, he will find no more danger from fevers at any season of the year in Haiti than in more temperate climates.
Moreover, the climate, the locality, the topographical and other conditions seem materially to affect and modify many of the ailments and diseases familiar to the medical profession and to mankind. In reference to this phase of the subject, the subjoined statements are given, chiefly on the authority of two educated physicians, both foreigners, of whom one, Dr. Smith, an Englishman, practiced his profession in Haiti for more than thirty-five years up to 1874, and the other, Dr. Terres, is a well-known American who, since 1875, has been and still is in active practice at Port au Prince.
The most common of all bodily ailments in that country are fevers. If one receives the sting of a wasp, or a shock from a fall or a wound, or “catches a cold,” a slight fever may result. But the ordinary fevers are not by any means regarded as serious or in any way dangerous. Generally speaking, they are all of a bilious type; they are well understood and readily yield to treatment. Among the natives, the worst type is the pernicious, the dreaded yellow fever, which is now considered infectious, but not contagious, and which, as a matter of fact, is exotic in Haiti; it is always brought from abroad, though it is thought to be endemic in all the West Indies. "I have never," says Dr. Terres, "known a case here that was not brought from some other place. At the same time, I do not doubt that it might originate here." It is not regarded as necessarily fatal, much depending on the constitution and previous habits of the patient. The alkaline treatment has met with marked success. All fevers of the typhoid type are very rare. Pulmonary disease is almost unknown, except, singularly enough, among the natives, and among them, it is always hereditary. Foreigners suffering from this ailment in any form find relief in that
climate. Rheumatism among the natives is believed to originate almost entirely from want of care and a too free use of stimulants. Acute dysentery and other bowel troubles are very rare, and so are Bright's disease and other kidney affections.
Indeed, Haiti is thought to be an excellent resort for persons afflicted with this latter class of maladies. The great activity given by the climate to the skin, together with the character and quality of the waters there, seems to act almost as a specific in those Scarlet fever and throat and eruptive diseases exist only in a mild form, and yield readily to treatment. Tetanus seems much more common there than in colder countries. Persons sometimes bring on lockjaw from the merest abrasions by so slight an indiscretion as bathing while the abrasions last. Several cases within the past year are reported to have resulted from the puncture of the hypodermic needle. The precaution for a person having any flesh wound, however slight, is to keep from bathing and from all avoidable dampness. The dreaded tetanus is, however, no more common in Haiti than in other tropical countries.
The Republic has been freer than most other countries from epidemics. But in 1881-82, it was visited by the smallpox, which raged for several months, and thousands upon thousands fell victims to it. Once before, the same disease came upon the country, but in a less deadly form. Cholera has never appeared there. Last year, la grippe found its way to Haiti for the first
time, but it was not by any means as severe there as in Europe The few deaths that resulted from it were
and the United States.
confined to old persons.
Dr. Terres says that it is difficult to get at the statistics of the average death rate, but he thinks it less than the same average in the United States, in Cuba, or in Jamaica. "I think," says this most careful and successful practitioner, "that Haiti is much more healthy than any other island in the Antilles. Port au Prince is certainly much more healthy than Kingston or Havana.” Dr.