London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Bermondsey 1858

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City, and in other districts, with very advantageous results. If experience
proves that the abolition of water receptacles can with safety and
convenience be effected, I know of no greater boon to our population.
Should there be well-founded objections to the working of it, then it
will be most desirable to energetically carry out the proposals made by
the Water Company.
I am glad to report that the premises of Mr. Brock well are in an improved
condition, and that he is evincing anxiety to carry out fully the
orders of the Vestry.
There are three cases in which I have certified that pigs are kept, so
as to be injurious to health—viz., in Bermondsey New-road, in Little
George-street, and in East-lane.
There is a disease now prevalent in various parts of the country,
assuming an epidemic form, and in many instances of a very fatal character,
termed Diptheria. It appears to be a species of fungus or growth
attacking the root of the tongue and air passages, and unless checked
soon causes death by suffocation. I allude to this because I have had
especial enquiries made of me from various sources, on the supposition
that the disease would be so likely to become developed in Bermondsey.
Such however is not the case, with the exception of one fatal instance,
occurring in a child a year old, complicated with measles. During the
last four weeks we have no record of any death from this disease, and
from my own experience, and the result of my enquiries, I have every
reason for believing that we are peculiarly free from Diptheria.
Indeed during the last month the health of the parish has been in the
highest degree satisfactory, the mortality registered being as follows—
For the week ending October 2nd, 10, the average in corresponding
weeks for the last ten years being 35; for the following week, 19 as
against 25; for the next week 24 as against 26; and for the week
ending October 23rd, 17, the decennial average being 25—making in
the above period a total mortality of 70, whilst the average for the corresponding
period is 111, which if the increased population be taken
into consideration would be 122. The births in the same period registered
are 176; shewing, I believe, a larger balance in favour of vitality
over mortality than can be produced in any other district, either Provincial
or Metropolitan. With the improved condition of health, it is
most gratifying to find that all our large manufactories, so well described
as "hives of industry," are in full operation, and our labouring population
all well employed.
I am, Gentlemen,
Your faithful Servant,
JOHN CHALLICE, M.D.,
Officer of Health.
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