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

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Port of London 1912

Report for the year ended 31st December 1912 of the Medical Officer of Health for the Port of London

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Sixty-one cases of Enteric Fever were reported, and the list of these is given in
Table VIII. 35 cases were treated in Denton Hospital, and of these, one was a member
of the Nursing Staff who contracted the disease whilst attending a patient suffering
from the disease.
The following cases are of some general interest:—
On arrival of the s.s. "Highland Pride," of London, 132,559, from Buenos Ayres,
the master reported that there had been no sickness on board during the voyage. When
the Medical Officer made his examination at Gravesend, he found that two cases of
illness had occurred, one of which it was considered advisable to remove to Denton
Hospital, as suspicious of Enteric Fever. This diagnosis was confirmed.
On arrival of the s.s. "Suffolk," of London, 115,859, from Brisbane, on the
2nd April, 1912, the master reported "all well" on board. It was subsequently
ascertained that the 4th Engineer was unwell with feverish symptoms, and had been
ill for some days previously. He was allowed to proceed to his home in West Ham,
and the Medical Officer of Health for that district was notified accordingly. On the
11th April I received information from West Ham that the man was suffering from
Typhoid Fever.
The s.s. "Tasmanic," of Goteborg, arrived on the 22nd April from Adelaide, and
in reply to questions put to him, the master reported "all well on board," and no sickness
during the voyage. It was suosequently ascertained that the steward was landed
at Port Said suffering with Typhoid.
An offence in each of the above cases was committed in not giving a truthful
answer to the questions put on the arrival of the vessel, and the facts were placed before
Mr. Solicitor, but in his opinion there was no evidence of wilful concealment of the
facts, and he advised that no further action should be taken.
During the five years ended 31st December last, of 100 cases of Enteric Fever
admitted to Denton Hospital, all except eight were discharged cured.
The total number of days treatment in hospital for the 100 cases, was 3,860,
giving an average duration of 38.6 days for all cases.

The cases occurred on vessels arriving from foreign ports, in the following proportion:—

European Ports28Russia42.8 per cent.
Asiatic „12India91.6 „
African „12British South Africa-83.3 „
North American Ports26Canada53.8
South American „21Argentina -100.0 „
Australian „1New South Wales -100.0 „

It will be seen that the largest proportion of cases, 28, was derived from Europe,
Russian ports contributing nearly half, South America next with 21, all from
Argentina. From North America, Canada sent 14, and the United States 12, while 10
came from British South Africa.