Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]
At the end of the year Joyce Green hospital was in process of being closed,
and the staff which had been brought together and had advanced some way towards
a satisfactory corporate life were in process of dispersion.
The medical superintendent of the smallpox hospitals (Dr. A. F. Cameron) has
submitted an interesting account of the history of the recent epidemic of smallpox.
He points out that the middle of the year 1934 was the end of a well-defined epidemic
period of smallpox in London which lasted for 61 years. It began in January, 1928,
reached its point of highest incidence in the spring of 1930, and thereafter steadily
declined until the admission of cases ceased in June, 1934. During these years
upwards of 14,000 cases of smallpox, including extra-metropolitan cases, were
treated in hospital.
The course of the disease throughout London during this period of 6| years is
indicated in the following table, in which is set out year by year the boroughs from
which over 50 cases per annum were received :—
Smallpox—Course of the disease.
Cross marks the year during which over 50 cases were admitted.
Before January, 1928, the disease was already established in the extra-metropolitan
districts of Essex, and in 1928 it appeared in Poplar and Lambeth, and
also in Wandsworth where a localised outbreak occurred. During the succeeding
four years a heavy incidence of the disease was maintained in the same extrametropolitan
districts whence came more than one-third of the total cases admitted
in 1929, and more than one-fifth of the cases treated throughout the epidemic
period of 6½ years. In 1929, the disease gradually spread throughout almost all
the boroughs on the north of the river to the east of the City, and throughout
Lambeth, Southwark and Camberwell. The comparative immunity throughout
the period under review, of Woolwich, Greenwich, Deptford, Bermondsey and
Lewisham boroughs which are contiguous to severely infected areas, is remarkable.