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

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London County Council 1925

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

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In addition to the above-mentioned cases, large numbers of possible smallpox
contacts proceeding to London, from ships arriving in this country from abroad on
which cases of smallpox had occurred, were reported by port sanitary authorities,
from time to time, and these were kept under observation by the medical officers of
health of the boroughs concerned. Special attention was also devoted to common
and seamen's lodging-houses, in this connection, by the Council's inspectors.
Measles caused 345 deaths in London during 1925, the death-rate being -07
per thousand as compared with .29 in 1924 and .08 in 1923. Measles is generally
prevalent in London every other year and was prevalent in 1924 so that an epidemic
became due in 1926. Signs of this epidemic were already evident in the autumn
of 1925 (and in the last quarter of 1925 and the first quarter of 1926) the deaths
numbered 921, as compared with 1,130 in the corresponding quarters of 1923-24.
The administrative steps taken to lessen the spread and reduce the mortality from
measles in recent years are discussed in page 102 of this report to which reference
should be made.
There were 869 deaths from whooping-cough in London during 1925, the deathrate
being .19 per thousand as compared with .11 in 1924. Figures showing the
course of mortality from whooping-cough in recent years are shown on page 100
of this report.
Scarlet Fever
The scarlet fever attack-rate in London during 1925 was 2.7 per thousand
living as compared with 2.5 in 1924. In the rest of England and Wales the corresponding
figures were 2.3 and 2.1 respectively. Of a total of 12,215 cases of scarlet
fever notified in 1925 (52 weeks) 6,758 or 55 per cent. were between 5 and 15 years
of age, deaths at this age period numbering 32 or 0.5 per cent. of the cases. The
corresponding percentages for 1924 were 53 and 0.5 respectively. The total number
of cases of scarlet fever notified in 1925 shows an increase upon the number notified
in 1924 and suggests that the trough of a wave which reached its maximum in the
year 1921 has now been passed and, assuming a repetition of the 7 year period
which has been the rule since 1907, a further rise in the number of cases may be
expected in 1926.
The diphtheria attack-rate in London during 1925 was 2.7 per thousand living
as against 2.3 in the two preceding years and 2.0 for the 10 years 1911-1920. The
London attack-rate is considerably higher than that for the rest of England and
Wales, which was 1.0 per thousand living in 1925. Of the total cases notified in 1925,
numbering 12,472 (52 weeks), 6,041 or 48 per cent. were among children aged 5 to 15
years, while the deaths were 178, giving a case-mortality for this age-period of 2.9
per cent. The corresponding figures for 1924 were 43 per cent. and 3.9 per cent.
Diarrhoea and enteritis caused 889 deaths among children under 2 years of
age in London during 1925, this being 10.79 per thousand births. The corresponding
rate in 1924 was 8.73.
There were 6,628 deaths from cancer in 1925 as compared with 6,483 in 1924,
the death-rate per thousand living being 1.44 as against 1.42 in 1924, 1.39 in 1923
and 1.21 in ten years 1911-1920.
A further report on Cancer of the Breast, with special reference to its associated
antecedent conditions, by Dr. Janet Lane-Claypon, has been issued by the Ministry
of Health (Eeports on Public Health and Medical Subjects No. 32).
Dr. Lane-Claypon obtained records relating to some 508 cases of breast cancer
among women and of 509 women of similar social and civil condition not suffering
or having suffered from cancer. A comparison of the two series of records confirms
the observation that cancer of the breast is more frequent among the unmarried,
and further shows that among married women the incidence is greater among those
who have not suckled their children or are childless. Among antecedent conditions
most frequently associated with breast cancer is injury of the breast.

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