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

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Finsbury 1937

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Finsbury Borough]

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prepared rat poison by the staff, under the direction of the
Borough Engineer and Surveyor, in the sewer manholes, is
regularly carried on.
Every year immediately before Rat Week, the Council encloses
with all rate demand notes, a special leaflet relating to the facilities
offered by the Council to aid in the repression of rats, and rat
repression posters are plentifully displayed, including the special
poster issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, on
hoardings, on the Council's notice boards, and on the rolling-stock
of the Borough Council.
The District Sanitary Inspectors carry out the duties of
rat officers, giving personal attention to every complaint as to
the presence of rats, and instructions and advice as to the best
means of combating infestation.
During the year 1937, 74 complaints of rats were received at
the Public Health Department, and dealt with by the Inspectors.
Two hundred and ninety-four applications were received for
rat poison.
The Borough Engineer and Surveyor reports as follows, as to
the measures taken in his Department:—
"During the first few days of every month poisoned bait
is laid in the manholes of sewers throughout the Borough.
This is the most practicable method of trying to reduce the
number of rats which are continually breeding in the drains
and sewers. The rats apparently devour a large amount of
the poison with fatal results. A certain proportion of the
poison is washed away during storms, and only a rough idea
can be formed of its effectiveness. Dead rats are very rarely
found in the sewers, and it is assumed that they are carried
away in the sewage.
After poison has-been laid, a few days elapse before an
inspection is made. The number of cases where the poison
has disappeared is noted, and the figures thus obtained continue
to show that it remains untouched more often on the eastern
side of the Borough than on the western.