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

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Bermondsey 1914

Report on the sanitary condition of the Borough of Bermondsey for the year 1914

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Copy of poster and handbill: —
"Summer Diarrhœa and Flies.
"Hundreds of babies die every year from summer diarrhoea.
This disease comes on suddenly accompanied by vomiting and baby
rapidly becomes worse very often in spite of medical attention.
It is, therefore, much more important to prevent summer diarrhœa
from coming than to endeavour to cure it after the patient is
attacked.
"Summer diarrhœa is always due to contamination of food,
especially milk, by dirt of every description, and it has now been
proved that this dirt is almost always conveyed by flies who walk
over and feed on filth and carry infection about on their bodies,
legs and probosces. Flies spread many diseases in this way, such
as summer diarrhoea, cholera, consumption, typhoid fever, etc.
It is therefore, most important to get rid of flies. This is more easily
done if we attack their breeding places as the following account of
the development of the fly shows.
"In the spring the female fly lays her eggs on manure heaps,
ashpits or any collection of moist refuse and lays about 120 eggs at
each sitting of which there may be several. From these eggs in
the course of a few hours, especially in the presence of heat and
moisture, a maggot or grub issues and feeds on the filth it lives in and
in about five days becomes a chrysalis which is a 'minute rolled
up bean like body' with a hard covering about ¼ inch in length;
in another five days the fly emerges from the chrysalis and begins
searching for food.
"The best way, therefore, of exterminating flies is to prevent
the accumulation of any dirt in or about the house where flies can
feed and breed.
"1. Keep all food which is not consumed at meal times in a
cool cupboard where flies cannot reach it.
"2. Waste food which can be burnt should be put in the fire
instead of throwing in the dust bin.
"3. All garbage and vegetable matter which cannot be burnt
should be put in the dustbin and carefully covered.


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