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

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Shoreditch 1898

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Shoreditch]

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if only for a very short time, is quite sufficient to destroy any tuberculous infection it
may contain and to render it harmless not only in regard to tuberculosis but other
The subject of the prevention of consumption and other forms of tuberculosis
has during the past few years been gradually coming to the front, and efforts are now
being made in various quarters to grapple with this terrible disease. Towards the
end of the year it was brought prominently before the notice of the public through an
influential meeting held at Marlborough House, under the presidency of H.R.H.
the Prince of Wales, and an association has been recently formed, having for its
objects (a) the education of the public as to the measures to be taken for the
prevention of the spread of infection, (b) the extinction of tuberculosis amongst cattle,
and (c) the promotion of the erection of sanatoria for the open air treatment of
With respect to the prevention of the spread of infection, steps have already
been taken by many of the Local Authorities in different parts of the country, and in
the metropolis.*
With respect to the extinction of tuberculosis amongst cattle, the success which
has attended the efforts of the Danish Government in this direction has received the
close attention of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis. Based upon the value of
tuberculin as a means of diagnosis, a system of isolation of the tuberculous animals
is carried out in Denmark, and there is no doubt that if a similar system were
adopted in this country in time bovine tuberculosis would become practically extinct.
It is recommended in the Royal Commission's report "that funds be placed at the
"disposal of the Board of Agriculture in England and Scotland, and of the Veterinary
"Department of the Privy Council in Ireland for the preparation of commercial
" tuberculin, and that stockowners be encouraged to test their animals by the offer of
"a gratuitous supply of tuberculin, and the gratuitous services of a veterinary surgeon
" on certain conditions," viz.:—
(a) "That the test be applied by a veterinary surgeon.
(b) "That the tuberculin be supplied only to such owners as will undertake to
" isolate re-acting animals from healthy ones.
*Early in February, 1899. the Shoreditch Vestry adopted the following recommendations of the
Public Health Committee, which are similar those now being carried into effect Lambeth:—
(1) That the medical practitioners of Shoreditch be informed that the Vestry is prepared to disinfect,
free of cost, all rooms and the contents thereof, which have been recently occupied by patients
suffering from any form of tuberculosis, and which may have been vacated by such patients owing
to death or removal, when requested to do so by the medical practitioners in attendance, or by
others on production of evidence that such disinfection is necessary.
(2) That a circular letter be sent to the persons in charge of public institutions in Shoreditch
pointing out the nature of the disease and the importance of precaution being taken to prevent
infection spreading, and offering disinfection, free of cost, by the Vestry's officers where it may
be necessary.
'(3) That a circular letter be sent to the occupiers of those houses in which deaths from tuberculosis
are reported in the weekly returns of the registrars of deaths offering disinfection free of cost by the
(4) That leaflets pointing out in simple language the danger of the disease, and the precautions to
be taken for its prevention, be issued to persons visiting the houses of sufferers such as the clergy,
district visitors and others, for distribution as may be necessary.

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