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

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Hammersmith 1962

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

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Leptospiroses (Weil's Disease)
On 17th November, 1962, I received notification that a man had been admitted
to a hospital in the Borough and had been diagnosed as suffering from Weil's
He had been transferred from a hospital in an adjoining Borough and the
date of onset was stated to be 31st October, 1962. His occupation was a Master
This disease may be contracted by such people as farmers and sewermen. The
sources of infection include cattle, dogs and swine; rats and other rodents are frequently
infected and water birds are reported as being carriers. The disease is
transmitted by contact with water contaminated with the urine of infected animals.
The infection results from penetration of abraded skin or mucous membrane, or
possibly through ingestion. In natural conditions direct transmission from man
to man is negligible.
Enquiries were made and it was found that the patient had been carrying out
drainage works at three different premises, none of which were in Hammersmith.
The Medical Officers concerned were notified.
The patient died on 25th November and death was due to Weil's Disease.
T uberculosis
Ten years ago the principles of modern treatment for tuberculosis were in
their infancy and were applied to a minority of cases only. These methods of
treatment are now well tried and established, forming a major part of the work of
the Hammersmith Chest Clinic. Every patient with active tuberculosis now receives
the benefit of treatment which very rarely fails to control a disease which previously
carried an appalling mortality rate. The number of patients on the Register of
Tuberculous persons has r.ot materially decreased in the period 1957/62, and this
is largely because so many lives are now saved.
Although it has been suggested in many quarters that the problem of
tuberculosis is fast becoming unimportant, this is a very short sighted and unwarranted
view. It still provides a large proportion of the work in the Chest Clinic
and many tragic cases are still seen. The condition is aggravated by poor and overcrowded
housing conditions, and it must also be realised that many children are
not receiving B.C.G. vaccination as recommended. The risk is clearly indicated by the
following table which shows that nearly half of notifications received last year were
in the age group 20 to 34, whilst the last column in the next table shows how the
number of cases on the Register remains fairly constant.

Summary of Notifications during the period from 1st January, 1962, to the 31st December, 1962.

Age PeriodsFormal Notifications
Number of Primary Notifications of new cases of tuberculosis
0—1—2—5—10—15—20—25—35—45—55—65—75 +Total (all ages)
Respiratory, Males1161131110245
Non-Respiratory, Males22116
Non-Respiratory, Females145
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