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

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Bermondsey 1915

Report on the sanitary condition of the Borough of Bermondsey for the year 1915

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There were 2 cases notified during 1915.
This disease is due to an inflammation of the part of the interior
nervous substance of the lower part of the brain and of the spinal
cord. It is distinct in this way from the last disease in which
inflammation of the membranes covering these structures occurs.
It is also known as infantile paralysis and occurs in two forms as
sporadic and epidemic. The sporadic form constantly exists in
this country, but only single cases occur now and then and undoubtedly
the two cases notified in Bermondsey belong to this type.
The disease is not so fatal as cerebro-spinal meningitis, but it nearly
always leaves behind a certain amount of paralysis in the arms or
legs. This results often in deformities if the child attacked happens
to be at the growing age. The disease is caused by an organism
which is " an exceedingly minute globoid body " and was discovered
in 1913 by Flexner and Noguchi. This discovery, however, has
not yet been universally accepted. The virus of polio-myelitis
is so extremely minute that it will pass through the finest earthenware
wfilter and this accounts for the difficulty in finding it.