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

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Islington 1866

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Islington, Parish of St Mary]

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FOR, JULY, 1866.
No. CXI.
Three hundred and sixteen deaths were registered in the four weeks
ending July 28th, the mean mortality of July being represented by 306
deaths. The number of deaths from ordinary diarrhoea and infantile
cholera were by no means excessive. The first cases of unquestioned
epidcmic cholera (putting aside the case of a woman from the East end
of London, who was taken ill and died on July 23rd, in the White
Conduit District) appeared, without warning, on Friday, July 27th.
On this day, five cases altogether were reported to me, and on the next
day, July 28th, five more. Of these first ten cases all but one were met
with in the streets and courts to the East of the Essex Road. All are
dead but one.
From the 27th July to the date of presentation of this Report (August
9th), I have recorded 38 cases of confirmed cholera, of which 23 have
died, the remainder being still labouring under the disease, or in various
stages of convalescence. I have a record also of 63 cases of what is
designated choleraic diarrhoea, a condition which differs from the
diarrhoea that ordinarily prevails at this season of the year, and has a
distinct and well-recognised relation to true cholera, of which it is but
a milder and less fatal form.
Although cholera may enter the families of the wealthy, and in its
fiercest onsets spares neither noble nor peasant, yet it flourishes chiefly
amid filth, especially excrementious filth, and where destitution has
impoverished the blood. But these conditions alone will not produce
cholera. The soil is indeed prepared, but the seed or germ of the
malady must be introduced also. What that germ precisely is, science

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