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

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Stepney 1938

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Stepney]

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blade, and saw his panel doctor the following day, and was admitted to
hospital on the 12th, where he was diagnosed as anthrax and given the
specific serum treatment. There was a history of the patient's having
handled during the seven days previous to his onset, bales of wool, country
of origin, Iraq ; bales of wool, country of origin, Australia; and bales of rabbits'
skins from New Zealand. A difference of opinion existed as to whether the
patient handled dry goat skins from Lagos—the employers appeared to be
able to prove that these latter skins were not handled by the patient. It is
quite impossible therefore, to say which, if any, of the above consignments
infected the patient, and all had left the country by the time of his onset.
All known contacts in this country were followed up, and no second case
occurred. As much of the above material had already been stored in a
wool warehouse before being handled by the patient it is also possible that
stray anthrax spores from the dust of the warehouse may have been the
cause of the infection. The case was further investigated by the Medical
Inspector of Factories, and I understand further preventive measures have
been adopted.
Undulant Fever.—One case, an adult female, of Undulant Fever occurred
in the Borough during the year, and recovered. This disease is due to the
Bacillus Abortus (Brucella Abortus), and infection occurs through the milk
of cows which are infected with the Bacillus. The typical symptom of
Undulant Fever in man, as the name suggests, is a recurring high temperature
over a prolonged period, and the diagnosis is confirmed by laboratory tests.
The case occurred at the end of August. The woman had been on
holiday in the country for twelve days, and two days after returning home
the symptoms of her illness began. After a few days she consulted her
doctor and attended the out-patient department of a hospital. She was
admitted to the hospital, and notified to me on the 10th September as a case
of Undulant Fever. The case was reported to the Ministry of Health.
Acute Poliomyelitis.—3 cases of acute poliomyelitis were notified. All
were removed to hospital.
Polio-encephalitis.—One case was notified.
Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis.—8 patients were notified during the year, of
which 2 died. The death rate for the whole Borough was .009 per 1,000 of
the population.
Encephalitis Lethargica.—One case was notified during the year and
removed to hospital. 5 deaths occurred, the death-rate being .02 per 1,000
of the population.
Puerperal Fever and Puerperal Pyrexia.—8 cases of puerperal fever and
41 cases of puerperal pyrexia were notified during the year, or 9 more than
in the previous year. All these cases were duly investigated and there were
3 deaths. 43 cases were removed to hospital.
Ophthalmia Neonatorum.—There were 10 cases notified as against 14 in
the previous year. 9 cases were removed to hospital.
Pneumonia Malaria and Dysentery Regulations.—241 cases of Pneumonia
and 41 of Dysentery were notified under the Regulations during the year.
There were 172 deaths from Pneumonia, or 1 more than in the previous year.
105 of these were in persons over 45 years of age. 1 case of Malaria was