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The Cholera Epidemic in Turkish (New) Bečej in 1872/1873.

Thanks to the notary István Pethe (Pethe István), who used an exceptionally beautiful handwriting and clear sentences, my reading and understanding were greatly facilitated, as well as understanding of each of his records. Reading the minutes from the Municipal Council meeting for the years 1872 and 1873 {when familiar figures appeared as deputies: István Ištvanfi, Jovan Maletić, György Lukseder (Luxeder Győrgy), Dr. Aladar Tausig (Tauszig Aladár), Gedeon Rohonci (Rohonczy Gedeon), Aladar Rohonci (Aladár Rohonczy), Lazar Zaharević, Count Josef Betlen (Bethlen József), Gyula Urban (Urbán Gyula)}, gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with events relevant to our town for that period.

Minutes 25.08.1872.Discussions and debates mostly revolved around diverting internal waters, construction and repair of the school in Šušanj, buying a new plot for expanding the Catholic cemetery, procurement of funds for building a new school for Serbian children, making decisions on covering the construction of the state road to Bašaid, repairing the state road to Kumane, solving the problem of high water in the Venice marsh, and the collapse of the bridge to Vranjevo, etc.
However, preparations and measures to protect against the upcoming cholera epidemic were a priority. The first cases of cholera in the territory of Hungary, to which Vojvodina belonged, appeared at the end of July and beginning of August 1872, transmitted from Russia through Galicia. It quickly spread from northern parts towards the middle and southern regions of the country. A favorable circumstance was that the upcoming autumn and winter, due to low temperatures, resulted in a slower proliferation of the cholera bacterium, allowing time to implement all necessary preparation measures for the second wave, expected to begin in the early summer of the following year. Drawing on experiences from the previous cholera epidemic in 1831, provisions enacted at the national level by the Ministry of Internal Affairs since September 1871 were applied against this epidemic. However, despite all this, the second wave, which began in April and lasted until the end of December 1873, claimed many more lives across the country than the previous one from the year before.
Doctors in our town, with the assistance of municipal officials, embarked on the protection and rescue of the population. We learn about the progress of preparations and the decisions made from the original minutes dated August 25 and 26, 1872.

Minutes

drafted in Turkish Bečej on August 25, 1872, in the municipal meeting hall

Present were:

Minutes 26.08.1872.Representative of the municipal judge as chairman, deputy István Ištvanfi: from the municipal council, notary István Pethe (Pethe István), the juror (esküt = eškit) István Čanji (Csányi István), and Ferenc Halas (Halász Ferencz), and from the deputies: Dr. Aladar Tausig (Tauszig Aladár), Josef Rozenberg, Ede Kugler, Count Josef Betlen (Bethlen József), Dimitrije Papić (Papics Demeter), Andraš Mravić (Mravits András), Mihajlo Popović, Peter Molnar (Molnár Péter), Janoš Zedi Jr. (Ződi János), Janoš Melar (Mellár János), Maćaš Pap (Pap Mátyás), Joca Mirosavljević, Josef Sokola (Szokola József), Antal Čanji (Csányi Antal), Ileš Zedi (Ződi Illés), Mihalj Čanji (Csányi Mihály), Gašpar Čanji (Csányi Gáspár), Josef Zedi (Ződi József), Janoš Tot (Tóth János), Laslo Menešagi (Menessági László), Toša Kiselički, Dime Jovčić.

After verifying the minutes from the previous meeting, the president gave the floor to Dr. István Lednicki, the municipal doctor, who presented a comprehensive report on the impending cholera epidemic to those present. Once the deputies were briefed on the facts, Dr. Lednicki rose again and proposed that this municipal representative body establish an epidemiological task force with the following tasks: to vigilantly monitor the behavior of the population, to take all necessary measures to protect them from infection, with a special emphasis on verifying the validity of food products, especially alcohol from private distilleries, which should not be put into circulation without a medical permit. Policemen should be on constant standby to enforce these measures.

Decision

The judge of the Turkish-Bečej town issued an order for the establishment of an epidemiological task force under the chairmanship of Sándor Dekker (Dekker Sándor), consisting of:
István Pethe – notary, Dr. István Lednicki – municipal doctor, Dr. Aladar Tausig, Dr. Antal Kapic (Kapics Antal), Dimitrije Papić, Josef Karnas (Karnász József), Mihajlo Popović, and Josef Rosenberg. The proposed gentlemen's mandate was immediately confirmed, with instructions to vigilantly guard over this epidemic with great care and to apply all necessary preventive measures. The entire municipal administration is at their disposal. Following these authorizations, the epidemiological task force issues the most stringent instructions.

1.
Large-scale pig farming is to be prohibited for current breeders Ferenc Kiš, Šandor Kiš, the Maletić family, and others found to engage in it. Once this information is obtained, the authorities are obliged to relocate the pigs from the town within 3 days. Rigorous controls will be conducted in households raising 1-2 pigs for personal use to ensure necessary hygiene standards are met.

2.
The Assembly holds the principled position that cattle must not be slaughtered in the town, only outside it, at a location designated by the epidemiological task force. In this regard, butchers are called upon to build a slaughterhouse at that location – if capable, from their own resources or with the assistance of the municipal treasury. If they are unable to participate in the construction at all, the municipality will construct the slaughterhouse from its own funds, and the construction costs will be reimbursed by the butchers, who must pay for the facility's use. (A quota will be set for slaughtering each individual head of cattle, and the proceeds will go to the municipal treasury). Slaughtering small livestock such as sheep, pigs, calves, etc., will continue to be allowed in the town, but with the highest hygienic standards. Blood and intestines will be collected in a pot and disposed of in the Tisa River at a designated location in the evening. All butchers in the slaughterhouse and in the town are reminded that they will be fined if they do not comply with the order for maximum hygiene protection: 5 forints for the first warning, and 10 forints for the second warning. The funds collected from fines will be allocated to the fund for the poor. Lastly, the epidemiological task force is authorized to determine the location of the slaughterhouse.

Minutes

drafted in Turkish Bečej on August 26, 1872, in the municipal meeting hall

Present were:

under the chairmanship of the vice president, Mr. Dimitrije Papić: Dr. Antal Kapic (Antal Kapits), Mihajlo Popović, Dr. István Lednicki (Lednitzky István), and István Pethe with members of the epidemiological task force.
The vice president read out the health regulations sent by the deputy county prefect on July 3, under number 4500. The members of the epidemiological task force are to discuss these regulations point by point to determine appropriate measures for implementing prevention and protection against this scourge. After consultations and agreements, final decisions were made.

Decision

1.
Dr. István Lednicki is tasked with inspecting the meat consumed in the town on a daily basis, from the slaughter of poultry, fattening pigs, and calves. After inspecting the livestock, he permits or prohibits slaughter, followed by thorough meat inspection. In addition to inspecting the livestock, he is obliged to carefully examine the cleanliness of the premises in the slaughterhouses and make any necessary comments. Those who do not comply with the instructions will be escorted by police to the judge and bear legal consequences. He is also to closely monitor stores for the quality of flour and bread, and pay even greater attention to these items at weekly fairs to ensure that spoiled and improperly stored flour does not reach the markets and stores. Furthermore, he will pay attention to bread and pastry sellers to ensure that dough is made from good and clean flour and adequately baked. Moldy and spoiled bread will be confiscated. Finally, while performing the aforementioned tasks, the doctor in question will have a juror and a municipal servant at his disposal, as stipulated in point one.

2.
All dairy products, milk, butter, cheese, should be thoroughly analyzed to determine their storage conditions and locations to ensure that only unspoiled products are used. Additionally, care must be taken to prevent dead fish, spoiled potatoes, unripe fruit, etc., from reaching the market. Dr. Aladar Tausig (Tauszig Aladár) is responsible for this.

3.
Dr. Antal Kapic is tasked with overseeing the treatment of various beverages, especially alcoholic drinks. He will take care and implement appropriate measures, if necessary, during wine-making and brandy distillation. He will also closely monitor vinegar production. He will inspect drinking water from courtyard wells, ensuring that owners maintain them as clean as possible. He will especially pay attention to the locations where water is drawn. To undertake and implement these measures, the doctor in question will have a juror and a municipal servant at his disposal, as specified in point one.

4.
The person responsible for overseeing lawns and pastures is ordered to immediately collect existing refuse on the streets and bury it deeply in a designated location outside the settlement. The municipal authority is to ensure compliance with this.

5.
Besides the ferry, where people fetch water, there is a floating wooden bathing area, from which various impurities entering the water reach the water intake points. At the recommendation of the municipal judge, it is requested to relocate the bathing area downstream, and to build a wooden platform for water fetching at its previous location. Furthermore, the municipal judge should take appropriate steps to immediately close the drainage of those latrines through which feces are discharged into the Tisa River via canals. Special attention should be paid to maintaining the cleanliness of streets and houses and regularly disinfecting them.

6.
Immediate ordering of about 56 kg of so-called carbolic acid (phenol) is decided, with sulfuric acid used for disinfection until its arrival.

7.
Two suitable persons should be appointed in each street to be able to identify cholera patients and immediately hand them over to the city hall and report for further action.

8.
It is announced that individuals who suspect they have cholera but cannot find a doctor should immediately report to the City Hall. All medical preparations will be charged to each individual; however, they will be given free of charge to the extremely poor.

9.
A decision has been made to place the slaughterhouse on the left side of the Kumanački road.

Upon completion and expiration of the time, the minutes are concluded and authenticated by signature:

Notary, István Pethe
Authentication: Dimitrije Papić – president, Dr. István Lednicki – epidemiological doctor, Mihajlo Popović, Dr. Antal Kapic

Excerpt from the minutes of the Municipal Council of Turkish-Bečej town for the years 1872 and 1873.

 

(Text translated and prepared by Karolj Andre)

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