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

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Southgate 1898

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Southgate]

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How to tell when a Child has caught Whooping Cough.
Whooping Cough also begins like a cold, with feverishness and a dry cough. The cough gradually
becomes more noisy and occurs in sudden outbursts, ending generally with the well-known whoop, the face
becoming dusky and the eyes watery. Often the child coughs itself sick. Sometimes there is no whoop, and
very young children often do not whoop at all. In between the attacks of coughing the child often appears
quite well.
Dangerous Complications which may arise from Whooping Cough.
The chief cause of danger in Whooping Cough, as with Measles, is from inflammation of the lungs.
Many also die from convulsions.
What to do when a Child has caught Whooping Cough.
As soon as Whooping Cough is suspected the child should be kept apart from all other children and a
doctor consulted. If really ill with the complaint, the child should be put to bed clothed in flannel, in a warm airy
room; but otherwise, the child should not be confined even to the house, but, when the weather permits, should
be in the open air as much as possible, away from other children. Light and nutritious food should be given
at frequent intervals, and especially directly after sickness, so that as much nourishment may be absorbed before
the child is sick again.
When the caugh goes on for two months or more nothing does so much good as a change of air, and,
when possible, this should be obtained.
How to stop the Spread of Measles and Whooping Cough.
Seeing that Measles and Whooping Cough cause so many deaths, we are morally bound to do all in
our power to prevent other children catching it when it occurs in our homes. It is necessary, therefore, to bear
in mind the following facts:
(1) That Measles is most infectious during the stage when the child appears to have a bad cold
only, and before the rash comes out. Therefore when Measles is about parents should keep any
child, with symptoms of a bad cold, apart from others for 3 or 4 days.
(2) That Measles and Whooping Cough remain infectious till the child gets well, usually 2 or
3 weeks for Measles and 6 weeks for Whooping Cough, and the infection is carried by the
breath, discharges, and clothing.
To protect others, the child must be kept quite apart from other children as soon as it is suspected of
sickening from Measles or Whooping Cough until it is well again. It will not always be possible for parents
to do this, but every healthy child under 4, and every delicate child must always be protected from the
infection to the very utmost, for the risk of these diseases ending fatally is especially great in such.
When there is Measles or Whooping Cough in a house, the children living there should not be
allowed to mix with other children, or to attend day or Sunday School, or places of worship or amusement, and it is
dangerous for the parents to visit among their friends, or to receive visits (especially of children).
Disinfection. On recovery of the patient, the room requires a little simple disinfection. It generally
suffices if the bedding and clothing are hung over the chairs and bed, the windows and doors are thrown wide
open, and the fresh' air allowed to blow through the room for about six hours, after which the child's body linen
and bed linen should be well boiled in the copper, and the floors, window sills, mantle pieces, shelves, cupboards,
drawers, tables, and chairs scrubbed with plenty of soap and water.
(Signed) A. SIDNEY RANSOME, M.B., D.P.H., Camb.,
The Medical Officer of Health