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

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City of London 1935

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

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Other disinfection and cleansing work carried out during the year is as follows :— Disinfection.—Infectious Disease :—

Articles disinfected after cases of infectious disease2,245
Library Books disinfected120
Public Vehicles—Electric Ambulance and Police Litters3
Cells at Police Stations0
Premises disinfected (including offices)174
Lockers disinfected at request of General Post Office Authorities129
Horsehair (cases)29
Cleansing of Persons Act, 1897 :—
Number of verminous persons bathed.81
Number of articles of clothing disinfected739
Cleansing of School Children :—
Total number of children cleansed1,249
Number of articles of clothing disinfected4,612
70 articles of clothing were destroyed at request of owners.
96 other articles were also destroyed at request of owners.
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Preservation of Bodies of Unknown Dead.—The De Rechter apparatus for the preservation
of the dead, installed at the City Mortuary, in March, 1909, was fully described in the
Annual Report of that year. It has proved of considerable assistance in connection with
the identification of persons found drowned in the River Thames. During 1935 two bodies
were placed in the apparatus.
The disinfectants and other chemicals in use in the Public Health Department and in
other branches of the Corporation's service have, as in the past, been supplied under a contract
prepared by your Medical Officer of Health.
They are used for deodorising and denaturising unsound meat, disinfecting public
conveniences, street gulleys, premises after infectious diseases, etc.
Special attention was given to the thoroughfares in the vicinity of the Billingsgate and
Smithfield Markets, the former of which presents certain difficulties in the matter of deodorisation
in the summer months.
Very few complaints were, however, received of offensive odours necessarily associated
with the fish trade.
In the interests of economy the practice of using a disinfectant fluid in conjunction with
general street watering has been discontinued.
Inspections under the Rats and Mice (Destruction) Act, 1919, have been carried out
by Mr. Webber, one of the Sanitary Inspectors, specially appointed to act as Rat Officer.
I am able to report that many satisfactory results have been achieved through the
co-operation of tenants of City Buildings and this Department. Nevertheless, the inadequacy
of the present law, in the light of the chief problem, the Black Rat, and the many
unsatisfactory methods of repression which are in existence, greatly increase the difficulties
of the work.
Two species of rat infest the City of London—the Black Rat and the Brown Rat. The
respective names of these species often create a wrong impression, and must not be taken
to illustrate the colouring of the rats. It is in their appearance and habits that they differ.
The tail of the Black Rat, turned back over its head, reaches beyond the head ; the
ears are large and thin. The tail of the Brown Rat reaches to about the eyes, and the ears
are thicker and smaller.
Determination of the species is important in deciding the method of disinfestation.
It is unusual, but not unknown, for the two species to infest the same property at the same
In the absence of a trapped or killed rat, the determination of the species may be decided
by an examination of the " droppings."

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