11 Blue Men Essay Research Paper Eleven — страница 2

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for the Bureau. He is thirty-six years old, pale, and stocky, and has a bristling black mustache. One day, when I was in Dr. Greenberg’s office, he and Dr. Pellitteri told me about the case. Their recollection of it is, understandably vivid. The derelicts were the victims of a type of poisoning so rare that only ten previous outbreaks of it had been recorded in medical literature. Of these, two were in the United States and two in Germany; the others had been reported in France, England, Switzerland, Algeria, Australia, and India. Up to September 25, 1944, the largest number of people stricken in a single outbreak was four. That was in Algeria in 1926. The Beekman-Downtown Hospital telephoned a report of the occurrence to the Health Department just before noon. As is customary,

copies of the report were sent to all the Department’s administrative officers. “Mine was on my desk then I got back from lunch,” Dr. Greenberg said to me. “It didn’t sound like much. Nine persons believed to be suffering from carbon-monoxide poisoning had been admitted during the morning, and all of them said they had eaten breakfast at the Eclipse Cafeteria at 6 Chatham Square. Still, it was a job for us. I checked with the clerk who handles assignments and found that Pellitteri had gone out on it. That was all I wanted to know. If it had amounted to anything, I knew he’d phone me before making a written report. That’s as arrangement we have here. Well a couple of hours later I got a call from him. My interest perked right up.” “I was at the hospital,” Dr.

Pellitteri told me, “and I’d talked to the staff and most of the men. There were ten of them by then, of course. They were sick as dogs, but only one was in really bad shape.” “That was John Mitchell,” Dr. Greenberg put in. “He died the next night. I understand his condition was hopeless from the start. The others, including the old boy who came in last, pulled through all right. Excuse me, Ottavio, but I just thought I’d get that out of the way. Go on.” Dr. Pellitteri nodded. “I wasn’t at all convinced that it was gas poisoning,” he continued. “The staff was beginning to doubt it, too. The symptoms weren’t quite right. There didn’t seem to be any of the headache and general dopiness that you get with gas. What really made me suspicious was this: Only

two or three of the men had eaten breakfast in the cafeteria at the same time. They had straggled in all the way from seven o’clock to ten. That meant that the place would have had to be full of gas for at least three hours, which is preposterous. It also indicated that we ought to have had a lot more sick people than we did. Those Chatham Square eating places have a big turnover. Well to make sure, I checked with Bellevue, Gouverneur, St Vincent’s and the other downtown hospitals. None of them had seen a trace of cyanosis. Then I talked to the sick men some more. I learned two interesting things. One was that they had all got sick right after eating. Within thirty minutes. The other was that all but one had eaten oatmeal, rolls, and coffee. He ate just oatmeal. When ten men

eat the same thing in the same place on the same day and then come down with the same illness… I told Greenberg that my hunch was food poisoning.” “I was willing to rule out gas,” Dr. Greenberg said. A folder containing data on the case lay on the desk before him. He lifted the cover thoughtfully, then let it drop. “And I agreed that the oatmeal sounded pretty suspicious. That was as far as I was willing to go. Common, ordinary, everyday food poisoning – I gathered that was what Pellitteri had in mind – wasn’t a very satisfying answer. For one thing, cyanosis is hardly symptomatic of that. On the other hand, diarrhea and severe vomiting are, almost invariably. But they weren’t in the clinical picture, I found, except in two or three of the cases. Moreover, the

incubation periods – the time lapse between eating and illness – were extremely short. As you most probably know, most food poisoning is caused by eating something that has been contaminated by bacteria. The usual offenders are the staphylococci – they’re mostly responsible boils and skin infections and so on – and the salmonella. The latter are related to the typhoid organism. In a staphylococcus case, the first symptoms rarely develop in under two hours. Often, it’s closer to five. The incubation period in the other ranges from twelve to thirty-six hours. But here we were with something that hit in thirty minutes or less. Why, one of the men had got only as far as the sidewalk in front of the cafeteria before he was knocked out. Another fact that Pellitteri bad dug