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

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Stepney 1902

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Stepney]

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The following deaths of residents occurred in Public Institutions in the
East London Hospital for Children 195
London Hospital 746
Mile End Infirmary 296
Mile End Workhouse 1
Ratcliff Workhouse 76
St. George's Infirmary 244
Whitechapel Infirmary 366
Whitechapel Workhouse 48
Small Pox.
The Small-pox epidemic which began in September, 1901, continued until the
third quarter of 1902. During 1902, 1,242 genuine cases were notified, of which
252 died.
The total number during the outbreak in 1901 and 1902 was 1,410, with 283
deaths. In addition to this number, another 129 cases were notified which turned
out not to be Small-pox.
Not only was this the largest number that occurred in any district in London
(exceeding the nearest to it by nearly 850), but with one exception the rate per
1,000 was greater.
This was due to several causes. In the first place, vaccination before the outbreak
had been neglected throughout the whole of the Borough, but greater in some
parishes than in others.
In the second place, it was due to the large number of common lodging houses
in the district, where it is most difficult to stamp out the disease once it has gained
a firm foothold.
It will be seen later on, in giving particulars of the cases that occurred in these
houses, that the lodgers wandered from place to place, and did not seek medical
advice till the eruption had appeared. In fact, when asked when they were first
taken ill, they often gave the date when the rash appeared, and until it had appeared
they did not feel ill.
It was also due to the large number of prostitutes that contracted the diseaseSome
of these were the lowest of the low, and in the intervals of sleeping in common
lodging houses, they slept in the streets, when they did not have sufficient money to
pay for a night's lodging. Questions were asked in every instance as to the patient's

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