parts of the empire this opinion is very prevalent, especially in
Kashmir and the hill districts. Lepers in India also frequently
assert that after a fish meal their state is exacerbated.
Coming now to the discussion of the fish hypothesis and
its application to Indian leprosy, it will be best to take it in its
two chief parts. Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson says12: "It is
possible that fish may cause the disease in one of several ways.
First, it may be by the direct introduction of the bacillus into
the stomach; secondly, it may be that some element in fish-
food rouses into activity a bacillus already existing in the
Taking the first point, it should be possible to find the
bacillus not infrequently in fish caught in endemic areas.
priori, judging from the similarity between leprosy and tuber-
culosis, it would not seem impossible that the Bacillus lepr
is capable of growing in a cold-blooded animal. The Commis-
sion paid special attention to this point, and some members
examined a large number of fish, fresh and dried, or prepared
as "nga-pi," but with absolutely negative result. Dr. Arning,
who has studied this part of the question most carefully, has
also never been able to find any leprosy bacilli in fish. The
value of such investigations is necessarily that of negative
evidence, but until positive cases have been shown, is worthy
of all consideration.
The fish hypothesis premises that all lepers at one time or
another have eaten fish in some form. Perhaps India is the
most suitable country to investigate this matter, for here people
of all castes and religions are thrown together. There is no
reasonable doubt whatever that the majority of Brahmins never
touch flesh or fish, and the same applies to many of the Banias
or traders in certain districts, and almost without exception to
the Jains. There are many Brahmins, however, settled on the
shores of the Bay of Bengal, who habitually eat fish, and it is
(12) Loc. cit.