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

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City of London 1911

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London, City of ]

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In June considerable publicity was given in the Press to the appearance of Plague
amongst rats, at a wharf on the banks of the Thames at Wapping, at a distance of less
than a mile from the Tower Bridge.
The presence of plague amongst rats, although undoubtedly indicating the necessity
for special precautions, is not in itself a reason for any special alarm.
Plague has occurred in rats in the Port of London for three years in succession,
and its presence in these rodents may offer a possible source of infection to human
So far as this year's outbreak is concerned, a number of dead rats were found,
which on examination were shown to have suffered from plague.
Information was at once forwarded to the Local Government Board, and an
inspection of the whole of the wharves on the river within the City limits was
The result of this inspection showed that, so far as the City was concerned, the
wharves are invaded by but comparatively few rats, and that there has been no change
in their condition, such as would indicate the existence of plague amongst them.
In order to accurately define the position, in the absence of any indication of
mortality amongst rats, I submitted 15 live specimens for bacteriological examination
to Dr. Klein, who reported all free from any evidence of disease.
The negative results obtained qua plague are a source of satisfaction, but having
in mind the fact, that the plague bacillus in the rat and the human being is in all cases
identical, there was undoubted reason for some uneasiness on the part of those
responsible for keeping plague out of this country.
The following measures for safeguarding the Public Health interests were
introduced into Parliament during 1911:—
The Sale of Margarine Bill, 1911 (see p. 63). (Dropped.)
Slaughter of Animals Bill (see p. 63). (Dropped.)
Poultry Act, 1911 (see p. 62). (Passed.)
City of London (Various Powers) Act, 1911 (see p. 62). (Passed.)
Rag Flock Act (see p. 64). (Passed.)
Protection of Animals Act (see p. 61). (Passed.)
Shops Act. (Passed).
Departmental Orders and Regulations were issued as under:—
Compulsory Notification of Ophthalmia Neonatorum (see p. 25).
Compulsory Notification of Cerebro-Spinal Fever (see p. 23).
Compulsory Notification of Chicken-pox (see p. 23).
Public Health (Tuberculosis) Regulations, 1911 (Hospitals) (see p. 26).
Public Health (Tuberculosis) Regulations, 1911 (Compulsory Notification)
(see p. 28).
Memorandum, Local Government Board, re Public Health (Regulations as to
Food) Act, 1907—Foreign Meat (Official Certificate) (see p. 66).
Memorandum, Local Government Board, re Food Poisoning (see p. 66).

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