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

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London County Council 1931

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

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Scarlet fever.—With the exception of a minor outbreak at one school (Hutton)
very few cases of scarlet fever have been reported.
Measles.—A few sporadic cases of measles have been reported. There was,
however, no evidence by the end of the year to indicate that the epidemic had yet
invaded any of the residential schools or children's homes.
Whooping cough.—Minor outbreaks occurred at four of the institutions,
Ashford, Hanwell, Norwood and Shirley. A sharp outbreak is to be recorded at
Hutton, mainly during October.
Chickenpox.—Minor outbreaks of the disease occurred at Peckham during the
spring, and at Anerley in the autumn. At the last named the spread of infection
had been arrested by the end of the year. Outbreaks at Ashford and Leytonstone
were confined to the periods August to October and October to November. Cases
occurred at Hanwell during November and December and there was evidence of
continued spread of infection in January.
Mumps.—With the exception of three schools (Anerley, Norwood and Leytonr
stone) only a few sporadic cases of mumps were reported. At Anerley, the infection
persisted during October and November. At Norwood, an outbreak commenced at
the end of November and had not abated by the end of the year.
Scabies.—An outbreak of scabies occurred at Hanwell. Arrangements were
made for Dr. J. M. H. MacLeod, the consulting physician for skin diseases at Goldie
Leigh hospital, to visit the school for the purpose of medically examining the children
where necessary and advising as to treatment.
Ophthalmia and Conjunctivitis.—A number of cases of conjunctivitis occurred
at one school (Banstead); they were all among children from one cottage. The
necessary precautionary measures were taken at the school to prevent the spread of
the disease.
Ringworm.—Some of the institutions reported the occurrence of cases of scalp
ringworm during the year. Infected children were sent to the Council's Goldie
Leigh hospital for treatment. Specimens of hair stumps taken from doubtful cases
have been microscopically examined from time to time in the laboratory at the County
Hall. A portable Wood's screen lamp has been of great assistance in detecting the
slightly infected cases.
Impetigo.—Twelve cases of impetigo were reported. Ten of these were from
among the boys on the training ship " Exmouth." The medical officer of the ship
stated that this was largely seasonal, and that the necessary steps had been taken to
prevent the spread of infection.
The late controlling authorities had introduced active immunisation against
diphtheria at the Norwood and Mitcham children's homes, the Shirley residential
school and on board the training ship " Exmouth." At Norwood and Mitcham, the
work was carried out by Dr. R. A. O'Brien, director of the Wellcome Physiological
Research Laboratories, assisted by Dr. H. J. Parish, and at Shirley by Dr. Holden, the
medical officer of health of the county borough of Croydon. On the training ship
" Exmouth," Dr. W. H. Kelleher, an assistant medical officer of the late Metropolitan
Asylums Board, was responsible for the work in this connection. The Schick test
toxin and diphtheria prophylactic were, in each case, obtained from the Wellcome
laboratories. The immunisation of the children has been uniformly successful in
preventing the spread of diphtheria in these institutions and in this connection the
following notes are of interest.
Mitcham.—A number of cases of diphtheria occurred annually before immunisation
was commenced ten years ago. Since that time only two cases of diphtheria
have been recorded (one of which developed the disease immediately after
admission and the other before the immunising process had been completed) in spite
of the fact that several severe epidemics occurred in the district.
Norwood.—In 1922 there were 40 cases of diphtheria in this home, but immunisation
was introduced in April of that year. Very few sporadic cases of diphtheria
have occurred since and none of the children who have been subjected to immunisation
have contracted the disease.