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

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London County Council 1922

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

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Foot and
On 24th January, 1922, foot and mouth disease was detected on several premises
in the north of England. The outbreak spread with such alarming rapidity that
the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, on 31st January, 1922, addressed a circular
letter to local authorities in Great Britain requesting them to take special steps
to secure the strict enforcement of the Orders on the subject. On 3rd February, 1922,
the Minister issued an Order empowering a veterinary inspector of a local authority
who might suspect the existence of the disease at any premises or place to prohibit
any movement of stock within the neighbourhood of such premises until the veterinary.
officers of the Ministry had had an opportunity of examining the suspected animals.
In consequence of the continued spread of the disease, the Minister, on 5th February,
1922, issued an Order placing under control the movement of livestock throughout
the whole of Great Britain.
On 4th February, 1922, an outbreak of the disease was confirmed at Rochford,
Essex, in cattle purchased at the Metropolitan Cattle Market, Islington. This was
followed four days later by an outbreak among the cattle in lairs adjoining the
market. Two cows, which had been in the lairs for seven days and which were found
to be affected, were slaughtered and the carcases destroyed. The remaining
animals in the lairs were also killed. The diseased animals were sent to the market
by a dairy company from their farm in south-east London. The other animals on
the farm were kept under observation by a veterinary inspector for one month, but
no further case of disease was disclosed. The Ministry of Agriculture considers it
probable that the cattle took infection from the Essex cattle. Four outbreaks in
the country were attributed to cattle removed from the Metropolitan Cattle Market
between 30th January and 5th February, 1922. It therefore became necessary to
take steps to trace the whole of the animals removed from the market between those
dates. This proved to be a task of some difficulty owing to the numerous re-sales
which take place in the market. No fewer than 361 cattle and 876 sheep were
found to have been moved into the districts of 26 local authorities and these local
authorities were all communicated with in order that they might satisfy themselves
that the animals were slaughtered or were in a healthy condition. The cleansing
and disinfection of the Metropolitan Cattle Market and the lairs adjoining
proved to be a task of considerable magnitude owing to the large area (about 30
acres) dealt with.
A further provision of the Order prohibited the holding of a market for the sale
of animals except by permission of the local authority. Application was made by the
City Corporation, which is responsible for the Islington Cattle Market, for authority
to hold a market on the usual market days. The Ministry of Agriculture saw no
reason why the market should not be held, and the Council accordingly gave the
necessary authorisation.
A further outbreak of the disease at the premises of a London cowkeeper involved
the slaughter of 37 cows, the destruction of their carcases and all infected material
and fodder, and the thorough cleansing and disinfection of the premises. Notwithstanding
exhaustive enquiries, the source of contagion in this outbreak was not
discovered, although there is reason to believe that it might have been conveyed from
an Essex farm.
Many infringements of the conditions of movement licences granted under the
Orders were reported, and in 33 cases legal proceedings were instituted against
the offenders, the total amount of penalties and costs imposed being £319 4s.
When the outbreak had been finally suppressed, the Minister of Agriculture and
Fisheries expressed his appreciation of the work carried out by the Council and its

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