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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the Home Office. In view of this requirement the inquiries which had for some years been made by
Dr. Hamer into anthrax in London were discontinued. The report of the medical officer of health
of St. Olave contains particulars of 14 cases of anthrax admitted in 1896 into Guy's Hospital, details
of which were given in my last annual report. His report also states that at all the wharves washing
accommodation for the men who carry and sort hides has now been provided. Notices giving advice
and suggestions to the workmen employed are also posted in the warehouses.
Bubonic Plague.
The report of the medical officer of health of the Port of London contains the following statement
as to certain cases of bubonic plague admitted into the Seamen's Hospital in 1896—
On September 19th, a native of Bombay was admitted into the Seamen's Hospital in a typhoid state,
and died within four or five hours of his admission. He had been in London since the 7th September,
and was apparently in good health at the time of arrival. The case did not attract much attention, and
the probable nature of the case was not suspected until a second somewhat similar one occurred.
On the 29th September, a native who had been ill for four days was admitted into the same hospital
with high fever and well-marked enlargement of the inguinal and femoral glands. Without going into
technical details, it is sufficient to state that his case was suspicious of bubonic plague, though no
absolutely certain diagnosis could be made. He died on the 3rd October. In view of the uncertainty
as to the nature of the disease, it was deemed advisable to take all such precautions as would have been
necessary in the presence of an undoubted case. The body was buried in a leaden coffin, and the vessels
were thoroughly disinfected. Bacteriological examination demonstrated the presence of the plague
bacillus, which was separated and cultivated for the purpose of diagnosis.
Inasmuch as there is no reason why plague, if introduced int > a suitable soil, should not prevail and
spread in this country, careful instructions have been given to your boarding medical officers as to the
steps to be taken in dealing with any vessel on which even suspected cases are found.
These cases having been brought to my knowledge by the medical officer of health of the Port
of London, detailed inquiry was at once made by Dr. Young at all common lodging-houses and other
premises likely to be resorted to by seamen, with a view to ascertaining whether any cases of illness
had occurred among such persons which in any way resembled the cases admitted to the Seamen's
Hospital. No evidence of the existence of such cases could, however, be discovered.
The tables published in the annual summary of the Registrar-General, and prepared by Mr. J.
Glaisher, F.R.S., from observations at Greenwich, show that the mean temperature of the air in 1896
was 50.1 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.6 degrees above the average of the 125 years, 1771-1895. The
rainfall during the year amounted to 22.42 inches, and was 2'56 inches less than the mean of 81

The temperature and rainfall in each month of 1896 are shown in the following table—

Month.Temperature of the Air.Departure from average of 125 years, 1771-1895.Rain.
Highest by Day.Lowest by Night.Mean for Month.Number of days it fell.Amount collected.
deg. F.deg. F.deg. F.deg. F.inches.
January52.928.340.5+ 399064
February56.224.340.3+ 1*66.035
March67.732.145.7+ 4.6223.00
April69.033.648.6+ 2.5100.56
May78.435.854.8+ 2250.27
June86.739.863.4+ 51141.94
July91.147.365.2+ 3671.07
August76.245.759.2— 1.7152.06
September71.540.356.7+ 01235.54
October63431.546.5— 2.9192.80
November50926.540.6— 1.99119
December51.526.940.2+ 1.222300

Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops.
During 1896 the Council's inspectors made 21,284 inspections of dairies and milkshops. In 30
instances legal proceedings under the Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops Orders were instituted, and in
these penalties amounting in the aggregate to £46 4s. were imposed. 256 cases of infectious disease
occurring at milkshop premises were dealt with during the year; these included 156 cases of scarlet
fever, 76 cases of diphtheria and membranous croup, 15 cases of enteric fever, 7 cases of erysipelas, 1
case of measles and 1 case of small-pox. In all cases the Council's inspectors visited the premises
with a view to ensure the adoption of measures to prevent contamination of the milk.
The number of applications for renewal of existing licences to cowsheds dealt with during the
year was 405, of these 393 were granted.