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

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Hampstead 1957

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

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April October
Manholes baited 718 757
Manholes showing prebait take 286 289
Manholes showing complete prebait take 38 51
Prebait take on each occasion was in the region of 37
per cento of the manholes treated. The better keeping qualities
of the bait made possible by the addition of paranitrophenol
probably accounts for the increased number of complete takes,
as the appearance of bait was still good at the end of the
extended period, the growth of moulds, etc. having been inhibited.
Destruction of Pigeons. Numerous complaints continue to be made
to the Department concerning quite severe nuisances and damage
caused to buildings by "rock" or "house" pigeons.
At present we have to rely upon a private firm
specialising in the destruction of bird pests to deal with the
complaints. Owing to various difficulties, the contractor,
although necessarily authorised by the Council to catch pigeons
on the highway and to enter private premises for this purpose
(subject, of course, to the consent of the householder), is not
under any binding contract with the Council.
This arrangement has not proved entirely satisfactory
and has often led to delays in dealing with urgent complaints.
Usually, when this firm does operate in the area, their
employees are approached by irate, bird-loving, members of the
community and accused of cruelty and inhumane treatment to the
birds. The somewhat Gilbertian situation then arises of frantic
calls being made to the police and my department from pigeon
lovers, followed by equally bitter complaints of the filth and
damage caused by these birds.
Insect and other Pests. Complaints of ants, bugs, clover-mite,
cockroaches, fleas, flies, lice, pigeons, woodlice and woodworm
are dealt with as part of our normal routine but the solution
to the problem of a boa-constrictor, kept as a pet in a
furnished house, had not previously confronted the public
health inspector. Complaint was made that this snake was left
by its owner, a cabaret artist, in the bath from whence it
often escaped and meandered into the garden or rested in the
gas geyser of the neighbouring tenant, much to the consternation
of all concerned. Alas, the snake died before the inspector
could exercise his ingenuity.

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