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

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Marylebone 1937

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for St. Marylebone, Metropolitan Borough]

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removed for treatment and the rooms sprayed with an insecticide. During
re-inspections in 1937, vermin were found in 30 flats, while 12 were
suspect as some evidence of infestation was found.
As a result of my three years' experience in this work, I would say how
necessary it appears to be to continue to treat the furniture and effects of
all tenants before removal to clean flats from verminous premises or where
the furniture shows any evidence of vermin.
On the whole the tenants are co-operating very well in the endeavour
to get rid of the bed bug. Second-hand furniture is still a great source of
re-infestation, not only that which is bought from shops but articles acquired
from friends. Tenants are constantly being warned of the danger from this
source, and advised that if they should take a second-hand article into the
home, the Public Health Department should be notified immediately so
that an examination, and disinfestation if considered necessary, may be
carried out."
Throughout the whole of the year the Cleansing Station, designed to form
part of Health Centre No. 2, was in course of reconstruction. Arrangements were
made for adults to attend the cleansing stations in neighbouring boroughs and in
the case of school children a temporary centre was provided by the London County
During the year no case arose in which shelter accommodation was required.
This was fortunate since the shelter included as part of Health Centre No. 2 under
section 195 (4) of the Public Health (London) Act, 1936, did not become available
until the beginning of 1938.
Though activity in this connection continues unabated, the number of complaints
received varies little year by year. In 1932 it reached 52, in 1933, 49, in 1934,
44, in 1935, 45, in 1936, 42, and in 1937, 43. The investigation of these complaints
necessitated the inspection of 56 premises, 28 of which were found to be rat infested.
Included in this latter number were 9 business premises (3 of these for the preparation
or storage of food), 18 private or tenement houses and 1 vacant site. In 5 of
the cases investigated the infestation was directly attributable to defects in the
drainage system, and the nuisance disappeared when repair or reconstruction was
carried out. In every instance all advice and assistance was given to the owner or
occupier by Inspector Willis, who acted as rat officer, and secured excellent results
from the methods advocated.
The following report, submitted to the Public Health Committee on the 1937
National Rat Week, contains information on this subject that may be found interesting:
"In common with all other local authorities responsible for the execution and
enforcement of the Rats and Mice (Destruction) Act, 1919, the Council made a
special effort during Rat Week (1st to the 6th November) to reduce the numbers of
rats and mice. Not only was particular attention given to the nuisance arising from
the presence of rats in sewers, but special efforts were made in connection with
publicity to secure the whole-hearted co-operation of the general public. The
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in their letter to local authorities with regard
to the making of arrangements for the holding of Rat Week, stressed the importance
of this aspect of the campaign, and the Council may claim to have succeeded in
gaining the support of the public and of adjoining local authorities.
Information with regard to Rat Week generally, and especially to the facilities
available through the Public Health Department, was sent to the looal press; and