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

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Hackney 1899

Report on the sanitary condition of the Hackney District for the year 1899

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Symptons.—Whooping Cough begins something like measles with
what is thought to be a cold. The child looks pale and out of sorts,
restless, with a cough, and sometimes has some running at the nose
with sneezing. Sometimes the cough, even at the beginning, is very
frequent, especially at night, and often ends in retching or vomiting.
With this there is usually some fever. Where a cough as above
described exists, it would be well to suspect whooping cough,
especially if this disease is prevalent in the neighbourhood, and to
cause the sick child to be isolated. This stage of the disease lasts
about 10 or 12 days, after which the peculiar and characteristic
"whoop" of the disease develop. In this the child makes a
number of rapid coughs until he is out of breath, then draws in his
breath with a peculiar crowing noise, the face at the same time
becoming red, and the eyes watery. The fever now disappears.
This stage lasts about a month, after which the "whoop" disappears,
leaving a cough more or less troublesome, which in turn disappears
under proper medical treatment. The infection lasts from the
beginning of the disease until five weeks after the commencement of
the "whoop," which proves the nature of the disease, and only then
if the coughing and "whooping" have ceased for at least two weeks.
From the above account it will be seen that to prevent its spreading
similiar precautions should be adopted to those recommended in a
case of measles.
Measures to be adopted to prevent the spread
of Whooping Cough.
1. Any child who is suffering from the above described symptons
of whooping cough, or who is suffering from a very frequent cough
which is worse at night, and which has a tendency to end in retching
or vomiting, should be isolated by removal to a room apart from the
remainder of the household, and from which all unnecessary clothing,
hanging, carpets, etc., have been removed.
2. As the discharges from the mouth, nose, and throat are capable
of conveying the disease, these should be received on soft pieces of
rag and immediately burned.

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