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

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Acton 1911

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Acton]

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not only some children would have reached an age when they
would be less susceptible to an attack, but a large number of
children will, when the epidemic arrives, have reached ages at
which the disease is little fatal. Any and every means should thus
be used to delay or arrest a threatened epidemic, but our
sphere of action is practically limited to the schools.
The other measures would be directed towards restraining
the spread of Measles in invaded households. The isolation of
every case of Measles from the first onset to the end of the
third week would undoutedly enable an outbreak to be
brought abrubptly to a close, as no second crop of cases
would occur.
It would also limit the cases very largely to children over
school age, as in the majority of instances the disease is
introduced into the house by a child attending school.
This ideal of prompt isolation will not for the present
be accomplished but the attention paid to invaded households,
will, it is hoped, tend to secure more precaution on the part
of parents. Unfortunately, it is no uncommon pratice for
mothers to allow the other children to mix with the Measles
patient, so that all can suffer together and reduce, as they
think, the aggregate amount of necessary nursing. There is no
greater or more pernicious superstition than that which is so
widely held, namely, that a child must have Measles. No
condemnation can be too strong for the practice of wilfully
exposing other members of the family to this infection. The
difficulty experienced in the prevention of the spread of Measles
in schools is also experienced in infected households. The
disease is most infectious in its earlier stages, and before the
rash appears. Circulars are distributed warning parents of the
early infectiousness of Measles, and until parents take
precautions, during outbreaks of Measles, to isolate all children
who may have running from the eyes and nose, it will be
impossible to prevent the spread of the disease.

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