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

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Croydon 1894

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Croydon]

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Thirty-four males and 30 females suffered from the disease,
and 13 males and 8 females died.

The ages of those suffering from the disease is shown in the following table :—

Under 5 years19842 per cent.
5 to 10 years26830½ per cent.
10 to 15 years10S50 per cent.
15 years and upwards9nil
match: ALTO ComposedBlock
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The majority of the cases is thus seen to have occurred in
those of school age (5 to 15 years).
The special feature of this disease in 1894, namely, its
disproportionate incidence upon a particular portion of Mitcham,
and closely adjoining portion of Merton, has been the subject
of one of the special reports above alluded to, which attempted
to show that serious conditions affecting the sewerage of that
locality, resulting from the "heading back" of sewage in the
sewers, have led to pollution of the soil by sewage, which has in
turn contributed to the extensive prevalence of unhealthy throats
among the population, as was proved by examination of the
children attending the Board School in this neighbourhood,
where no less than 47 per cent. of the scholars were discovered
to be the subjects of chronic tonsillitis and a very pronounced
form of granular pharyngitis.
Diphtheria is now known to be caused by a bacillus, known
as the Klebs and Loffler bacillus, which usually takes up its
position in the throat, 'and there produces various substances,
which are absorbed by the system generally, and cause symptoms
of profound poisoning.
The development of this bacillus, like that of all bacilli, is
greatly influenced by the soil on which it has to grow, and the
resistance it has to overcome. It is only reasonable to conclude
that an "unhealthy" throat is, in itself, more favourable for its
reception and development than a healthy one, and when this is
combined with a somewhat lowered vitality such as must exist

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