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

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Willesden 1947

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Willesden]

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The number of confirmed cases of whooping cough in Willesden in 1947 was 571, as compared with 377 in
1946. It has been estimated that between 60 and 70 per cent, of all children are affected by whooping cough, and
over 1,000 children per year die of this complaint in England and Wales. Two-thirds of the children who suffer
from this disease are under 5 years of age.
In order to assist in combating the disease, the following measures were taken in 1947:—
(1) With the permission of the Ministry of Health, combined whooping cough vaccination and diphtheria immunisation
was commenced in Willesden, in November, 1947. Children who had previously been immunised against
diphtheria were offered inoculation with whooping cough vaccine. In the last four weeks of the year 1947,
47 children received their first injection against diphtheria, and 57 their first injection of the combined diphtheria
and whooping cough vaccine, making a total of 104 in all, 55 per cent. of whom received the combined
immunisation. Since then, the number of children having combined immunisation has been over 90 per cent.
(2) The early diagnosis of the disease has been facilitated by the examination of post-nasal pharyngeal swabs
before the whoop develops. Arrangements were made with the local Public Health Laboratory for the special
examination of post-nasal pharyngeal swabs of children with catarrhal symptoms. The local general medical
practitioners were circularised to this effect and a meeting was arranged where they were addressed on this
subject by a bacteriologist from the Laboratory.
(3) Arrangements were made for the early admission into hospital of all children suffering from whooping cough
whose home circumstances were unsatisfactory.
Whooping Cough and Diphtheria Immunisation.—With the introduction of the combined whooping cough
and diphtheria immunisation, the Health Visitor commences encouraging the mother, when the child is six months
old, to have the child immunised at nine months, that is three months earlier than previously. The reason for this
is that whooping cough usually takes the child earlier than diphtheria and protection has therefore to be given and is
more effective at an early age.
Immunisation sessions are held at Kilburn and Willesden Health Centres on Thursday and Friday afternoons
at 2 p.m., and at Stonebridge Health Centre on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. Sessions are also arranged at the Schools
when required.
Measles.—1,451 cases were notified in 1947, but a total of 1,808 cases were visited by the Health Visitors,
1,220 of which occurred in children under 5 years of age. There were 2 deaths from Measles in 1947. One of the
children who died was 2 years of age, and one was 5 years of age.
Tuberculosis.—The following table shows the number of cases of Tuberculosis on the register at the end
of each year 1939-1947:—

Table No . 4.

Number of Cases of Tuberculosis on Register at end of Year.

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Municipal Health Centres.—At the 3 Municipal Health Centres, expectant mothers attended the medical
consultation and medical treatment Clinics on 22,510 occasions, nursing mothers 31,737, and children under 5
43,939, making a total at these clinics of 98,186 attendances in 1947.
Out of the total number of 3,753 children registered as born alive in 1947, 2,480, or 66 per cent., subsequently
attended the Municipal Health Centres.

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