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

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London County Council 1912

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

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Report of the County Medical Officer—General.
Medical officers of health derive their information as to the occurrence of cases of measles mainly
from the teachers of elementary schools, though it is observed that the public are applying in increasing
numbers for disinfection after the termination of cases of illness from this cause and thus bring to light
many cases which Would not otherwise have become known. Most of the reports show the number of
cases made known from these sources and the following table has been compiled from the material
thus made available.
Measles in
Metropolitan borough.
No. of cases.
Metropolitan borough.
No. of cases.
Paddington 1,374 Shoreditch 754
Kensington 485 Bethnal Green 849
Hammersmith 487 Poplar †1,114
Fulham 783 Bermondsey 730
Chelsea 233 Lambeth 1,595
Westminster 468 Battersea 706
St. Marylebone 484 Wandsworth 1,095
Hampstead 429 Deptford 221
St. Pancras *1,951 Greenwich 586
Islington 1,377 Lewisham 351
Hackney 769 Woolwich 775
Holborn 202
Finsbury 625
* Patients, contacts and suspects. † Houses under observation.
As mentioned in Part II. (Education) of this report, the incidence of measles in London declined
considerably in 1912 as compared with 1911, but it should be noted that in the early part of the
latter year there was exceptional prevalence. It is worthy of remark that the decline observed in 1912
has been maintained during the current year. Medical officers of health throughout London generally
are devoting much attention to the question of the high mortality from this disease, and in this connection
the reports contain references to the work of sanitary inspectors and health visitors, and to the
distribution of pamphlets and instructions to parents. That these educative influences are having an
effect upon the parents there can be little doubt, and it is mentioned that in Kensington 159 cases had,
when visited, already received medical attention. In Hampstead the percentage not medically treated
was 22, whilst in Holborn a doctor was in attendance in 84 out of 99 cases visited. Considerable use
has been made of the Metropolitan Asylums (Measles) Order of the 30th May, 1911, providing that
non-pauper cases of measles may be received in the hospitals of the Board on the certificate of the medical
officers of health of London sanitary districts. Though admission is restricted to children of the poorest
class and to urgent cases for whom there is no suitable provision at home, 4,314 cases were admitted
during the year. The deaths numbered 414, giving a mortality rate of 9.6 per cent., as compared
with 13.9 per cent. in 1911. This high death-rate is, of course, mainly due to the class of cases
In the reports relating to Paddington and Finsbury tables are given of the age incidence of cases
and deaths for the year 1912 and the period 1903-12 respectively. The comparison is interesting inasmuch
as the first-mentioned borough had in 1912 a death rate from this cause well below the mean for
London, whilst Finsbury had the highest rate. In the following table the number of admissions to the
Metropolitan Asylums Board hospitals and the deaths for the same age groups are also shown, though
regard must be paid to the fact that "notified cases" and "admissions" cannot be held to be comparable
terms and to the further consideration that the admissions to the Metropolitan Asylums Board's
hospitals form a selected class naturally subject to a high rate of mortality.
Age groups
Notified cases, 1912 93 166 152 173 222 747
Deaths, 1912 11 12 6 2 1 —
Notified cases, 1903-12 333 679 644 808 1,183 2,385
Deaths, 1903-12 168 331 114 73 21 27
M.A.B. hospitals—
Admissions, 1912 404 1,042 779 697 566 781
Deaths, 1912 82 196 62 43 22 9
18820 D