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

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Erith 1908

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Erith]

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Diphtheria. There were 60 cases of this disease notified during 1908, 39 of
them in children between 5 years and 15 years of age, 18 between 1 year and 5
years, 1 under 1 year and 2 over 15 years. In the case of this disease again the
source of infection could not be definitely traced in the majority of cases, but the
incidence of the disease, as does that of Scarlet Fever, shows what a large proportion
of the cases occurs in children at or about school age, and how favourable contact
in school is for the dissemination for this disease.
All cases of Diphtheria which are admitted to the Sanatorium, are bacteriologically
examined before being discharged, to see that they are free from the germ of the
disease, and as a consequence of this we have had no ''return" cases.
There were 8 deaths from Diphtheria during the year.
Puerperal Fever. There were two cases of this disease during the year both
o£ which were fatal.
Phthisis. The notification of this disease is voluntary and only a small
proportion of the cases are notified, the number for the year being only 12, while
the number of deaths was 22. From other Tuberculous diseases (which are not
notifiable) the number of deaths was 12.
In cases notified the house is visited, a card with instructions as to precautionary
measures to be taken, left, and disinfectants supplied on request. In cases where
deaths from Phthisis have occurred, the house is disinfected on application by the
The Sanatorium for infectious diseases is situated near the boundary of the
district, no houses being within a quarter of a mile of it. It consists of an
administration block, one block of two wards containing 8 beds for Diphtheria, and
an iron building with two large wards, containing 8 beds each, and a small ward
with 1 bed for Scarlet Fever.
Early in 1908 negotiations were opened with the owner of the land adjoining
the Sanatorium for the purchase of 2 acres. This purchase was completed during
the summer, and plans were then passed by the Council for the erection of a building
for a new laundry and a steam disinfector. Hitherto the disinfector has been of the
hot air type, but the one now intended to be put in is a steam disinfector of the
"Thresh " pattern. When completed the laundry and disinfector will be thoroughly
efficient for the needs of the hospital even when much larger than at present.
During the year 139 cases were admitted, viz.:—107 Scarlet Fever, and
32 Diphtheria.

Two tables are attached, one showing the number of patients treated during 908, and the second giving comparative returns of admissions during past 8 years.

Scarlet Fever.Diphtheria.Total.
In Hospital, January 1st, 190824125
Admitted during year10732139
In Hospital, December 31st, 190816622

* This case was found on admission to be suffering from Diphtheria as well as
Scarlet Fever, and the death was due to Diphtheria not the Scarlet Fever, and is
only shown here owing to its being notified and admitted as Scarlet Fever.