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

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London County Council 1896

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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Sanitary area.Cases, 1896.Case rate per 1,000.Deaths, 1896.Death rate per 1,000.
St. Luke2644.86.321.35.50
London, City of1974.
Mile.end Old.town7646.66.834.34.30
St. Saviour, Southwark1404.
St. George, Southwark3355.55.517.44.28
St. Olave624.
Port of London5

The reports show that prosecutions were instituted in Marylebone and Plumstead for wilful
exposure in public places of persons while infectious from scarlet fever.
Reference is made to return cases, or cases recurring in houses to which a patient recently
discharged from a fever hospital had returned, in several of the reports ; thus in Westminster three such
cases occurred, in Shoreditch six such cases, in St. Olave two. One of the children after discharge from
the hospital was found to have rhinorrhœa, the other desquamation of a finger, but the mother in the latter
case had recently visited a child suffering from scarlet fever. Six cases were noted in Wandsworth and
four in Plumstead. One of these children was found after discharge from the hospital to have a copious
discharge from the ear, another had enlarged tonsils and a chronic mucous discharge from the nose.
The insufficiency of hospital accommodation for persons suffering from scarlet fever is referred to
in the reports of the medical officers of health of Kensington, Hampstead, Hackney, Holborn, Shoreditch,
Whitecjiapel, St. George in the East, Poplar, Mile.end, St. Olave and Plumstead. The
medical officer of health of Kensington writes that " On some days in July as many as a dozen patients
were detained at home awaiting removal, the majority of them suffering from scarlet fever, others from
diphtheria. This state of things, which continued more or less throughout the latter half of the year,
was mitigated to a certain extent by the opening of the Brook Hospital." The medical officer of health
of Holborn suggested to the managers of the Metropolitan Asylums District that " It must surely be a
much less evil that patients should have only 1,600 cubic feet, say, (instead of the 2,000 cubic feet now
allowed) than to be kept in crowded rooms with probably less than 150 cubic feet, and at the same
time mixed with healthy children, and a source of danger to many others." He states, "I am glad to
find this recommendation was adopted, for while the certified normal accommodation for fever and
diphtheria at the Board's disposal was less than 3,900 beds, this number was for many months largely
exceeded." The medical officer of health of Hackney writes "Without imputing any blame to the
Board for this want of accommodation I am of opinion that the inability to remove all cases led to an
increase in their number in this district."
Prevalences of scarlet fever in resident institutions are referred to in several of the reports of
medical officers of health.—The annual report of the medical officer of contains reference to
two outbreaks of this disease in an orphanage home in Bonner.road, the particulars of which were
given in a special report forwarded by him to the Council. Both outbreaks were due to personal
contagion, the disease being in the first place introduced into the school by the child of an officer of the
school, and in the second by one of the scholars, who appears to have been infected at Southgate a few
days before his admission into the school.
St. George, Southwark.—The medical officer of health reports that ten cases of scarlet fever
occurred in a hospital within a fortnight. The cause was probably the reception into the hospital of
an unrecognised case of scarlet fever, the patient dying a few hours after admission.
Whitechapel.—The medical officer of health states that a number of cases of scarlet fever occurred
in the Tower of London.
Chelsea.—The report contains reference to the occurrence of 26 cases of scarlet fever in the
Duke of York's Royal Military School.
1 See footnote (1), page 7.