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

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Ealing 1966

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Ealing]

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Food Poisoning
There were 31 cases notified but only five were confirmed after bacteriological
investigation. The causative agents of these were: S typhimurium (2 cases) Staph,
aureus (1 case), Salmonellae - Dublin (1 case) and Salmonellae - Stanley (1 case).
Infectious Hepatitis
During the first full year of the Special Order which made the disease
notifiable in the Borough, 58 cases were notified. One of these was fatal.
There were no cases notified.
Measles has an interesting pattern of occurrence in that large outbreaks
follow smaller ones in alternate years, and as was expected there were relatively
few cases notified (1,204) during the year compared with 1965 (3,618). The
explanation for this pattern is probably that many children lose during the following
year a degree of immunity which they have acquired in the previous epidemic, without
themselves having contracted the disease. In addition, a number of children will have
been born between one 'measles year' and another and will, therefore, be susceptible.
Measles is an acute virus infection which affects mainly young children,
although no age group is immune. Whilst the disease itself has not changed in
character in recent years, the advent of antibiotics has very much reduced the
incidence of dangerous complications. It is, nevertheless, a cause of considerable
distress in young children and also expensive in general practitioner time. The
possibility of immunising against the disease has, therefore, been considered in
recent years.
In October 1964, the constituent authorities of the London Borough of Ealing,
together with 15 other boroughs in various parts of the country took part in a trial
organized by the Medical Research Council to test the efficiency of a vaccine
against measles. Some 1,200 of the Borough's children received the vaccine and it
was found that they were, depending on the type of vaccine, between five and eight
times less likely to catch measles than unvaccinated children. In addition, threequarters
of those who did subsequently catch measles had attacks which were less
severe than usual. A small percentage of children vaccinated developed some
In February, 1966, however, the Council was advised by the Ministry of
Health that, although vaccines would be available to doctors who wished to use them
for any of their patients, they considered it premature to embark on any programme of
general measles vaccination. They considered that further studies were needed before
advice could be offered on the use of this vaccine in the routine immunisation of
children or on measles vaccine campaigns. The Ministry pointed out that the duration
of protection is not at present known and is the subject of further study.
The Council accepted this advice from the Ministry.
Membranous Croup
No cases were notified during the year.