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

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London County Council 1934

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

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Diphtheria.—During the year 75 children were transferred to the fever hospitals
as cases of clinical or bacteriological diphtheria. Of these 20 proved to be purely
bacteriological, 28 were diagnosed as suffering from clinical or faucial diphtheria,
and 14 as nasal diphtheria. In the remaining 13, the diagnosis of diphtheria was
not confirmed. In connection with these cases 572 children were swabbed in 16 of
the schools, diphtheria bacilli being found in culture from the throat or nose in 53,
and, of these, 50 proved to be virulent and only three avirulent. The virulent
cases were removed to hospital.
Re-examination of 18 children showed diphtheria bacilli to be present in 14.
In addition, 28 adults employed in the schools and homes were swabbed, all proving
negative except one, in whom virulent diphtheria bacilli were found.
The results of examinations in 1934 of children in the residential schools and
homes may be compared with those of the two previous years, as follows:—

Table 25.

YearNumber of children swabbed.Diphtheria bacilli found.

*50 virulent; 3 avirulent.
Scarlet fever.—Cases of scarlet fever of mild type occurred in several of the
schools and homes. A minor outbreak occurred at one of the receiving homes,
but its spread was speedily arrested.
Measles—The effects of the measles epidemic were felt in most of these establishments
during the first half of the year.
German measles—An outbreak of German measles occurred in one school, and
there were groups of cases at three others.
Whooping-cough—A few cases of whooping-cough were reported from some
of the schools.
Chickenpox—Outbreaks of chickenpox occurred in four of the schools, and
more or less isolated cases were reported from some of the other establishments.
Mumps.—There was a series of cases of mumps in each of two schools, and some
isolated cases elsewhere.
Scabies—Cases of scabies were reported from six of these establishments.
Impetigo—There were cases of impetigo in six of the schools.
Ophthalmia and conjunctivitis—A group of cases of ophthalmia and conjunctivitis
occurred in one school.
Ringworm—A few cases of scalp ringworm occurred in these establishments.
As stated in the last annual report, a Wood's glass analytical lamp has been
provided at each of the schools and homes where electric current is available, and
all new entrants are "lamped" as a routine.
Specimens of hair stumps taken from suspected cases were microscopically
examined from time to time in the laboratory at the County Hall. Out of 24
specimens examined, ringworm fungus was found to be present in 5 (4 small spore
and one large spore).
As stated in the last annual report an outbreak of body ringworm occurred
amongst the boys on the training ship "Exmouth," during the winter months of
1933-34, which necessitated the evacuation of the ship (on 29th January) and the
temporary transfer of the boys to the Hanwell residential school which was then
The first cases occurred at the end of September, 1933, but such preventive
measures as the daily inspection of the boys, the immediate removal to the shore
infirmary of suspected cases and the disinfection of clothing, bedding, etc., appeared
to have little effect on the spread of infection, and it was decided that all the cases
should be immediately removed to Goldie Leigh or Queen Mary's hospital and
that one of the Council's dermatologists (Dr. J. M. H. MacLeod), who is also visiting