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

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Hornsey 1921

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hornsey, Borough of]

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Unfortunately there were 13 deaths from Diphtheria. This
disease is often insidious in its onset, and the child may have
been ailing for several days before the parents become aware that
the child is really ill. Delay may follow in sending for the
doctor; and so it happens that, by the time the child is admitted
for treatment to the Isolation Hospital, it may have been ill for
five or six days. For such cases little can be done. The early
diagnosis and the immediate treatment of all oases of diphtheria
is the best way of decreasing the mortality. This, again, is a
matter in which parents need to be educated, for, whenever a
child is ailing and listless, examination of the throat should be
made at once. If only this were done many lives would be
saved. It is a matter for regret that delay by the medical practitioner
in rightly diagnosing cases of diphtheria has been followed
by the death of the sufferers in several instances during
the past year. This fatal delay might be avoided if the doctors
would make use of the services of the Medical Officer of Health
when they are in doubt as to the diagnosis of their cases.
Measles caused only one death. Very few cases occurred
during the year, which accounts for the low mortality. Parents
think that this disease is of little danger, and until this opinion
is changed we shall continue to suffer from unnecessary deaths
from this disease. If every case of measles could be visited and
nursed by a Health Visitor, we should not only decrease our
mortality from this disease but also help in educating the parents
regarding the gravity of measles.
Whooping-cough caused 2 deaths. Again, if we had a sufficient
staff of Health Visitors we should visit and nurse these
cases in their own homes.
Summer diarrhoea (or infective enteritis) caused 14 deaths
of little children. This is a disease which is carried by flies,
and occurs during the fly season, especially in the early days of
autumn when the chilly evenings cause the flies to come indoors
for warmth. The Health Visitors spent much of their time and
no doubt saved many lives of babies by visiting and helping to
nurse those infants who were attacked by summer diarrhoea.
The number of deaths from measles, whooping-cough and
diarrhoea in children were equal to those caused by scarlet fever
and diphtheria.

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