Sanitation, Diet, Disease, etc. 313
position. It must always be remembered that members of
castes forbidden to take life often eagerly avail themselves of
all opportunities as regards what has been found dead or killed
by others. Thus the bare statement that leprosy prevails in
classes who, from religious scruples, never eat animal food is
usually of no real value. Careful and even sceptical inquiry
must be made as to whether the individual lepers had really,
in the case of preserved fish, invariably abstained."
There is of course much truth in these assertions of Mr.
Hutchinson, and the above facts have only been mentioned
to show that it is possible to find amongst lepers, individuals
belonging to castes not allowed to touch animal food. Now
Mr. Hutchinson is inclined to doubt the statement of lepers
who profess to observe the rules which caste or religion enforce
on them. Yet if a comparatively large number of lepers are
found who state that they have never eaten fish, and these
belong to castes or tribes of which it is known that their rules
forbid the strict observer to touch meat or flesh in any form
or shape, it seems improbable that all of them should have
deceived the questioner or themselves. The Commission paid
particular attention to this question, and found that one
hundred and sixty-two individuals denied ever having touched
fish (Table I). Many of these were allowed to partake of
animal food, but denied ever having eaten fish, though in all
cases leading questions were avoided as much as possible.
To see in what percentage of cases an abstinence from this
article of diet could be traced, every leper of a certain number
of asylums was interrogated, with the result that out of 464
lepers 99, or 21.3 per cent., denied having ever partaken of