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

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Bermondsey 1920

Report on the sanitary condition of the Borough of Bermondsey for the year 1920

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only method offering any hope of success is the
one that has been in use for some considerable
time, and that is disinfection by SO2. If every
house or room infested with bugs were to be
thoroughly disinfected by SO2, the staff of the
Disinfecting Station would have to be greatly
increased in the summer months, and the cost
would be great. The suggestion might be put
forward that a charge might be made for the disinfection
of verminous rooms. The parasite
found—and thousands were examined —was exclusively
the cinex lectularius.
(5) Fleas. In July, August and September,
the quantity of fleas found in houses was enormous,
and far exceeded the numbers found in any
other years within the experience of the present
disinfecting staff. The species of flea found was
almost exclusively the pulex irritans, or the common
flea of man. Very occasionally the ceratophyllus
fasciatus and the ctenocephalus canis or
dog flea were found. It is interesting to note that
this epidemic of fleas coincided with the epidemic
of Scarlet Fever. Dr. Hamer of the London
County Council has commented on the relationship
between the number of fleas and epidemics
of Scarlet Fever, but, up to the present, no direct
relationship has been shown.
(6) Rats. A great many complaints of rats
have been received from all parts of the Borough.
In the majority of cases the presence of rats in
the houses has been found to be connected with
defective drains and the reconstruction of sewers
in various parts of the Borough has increased
the numbers of rats in the houses. The subject
of the prevention of rats resolves itself, to a
large extent, into the provision of properly-constructed
drains. A great many rats have been
examined from all parts of the Borough, and in


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