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

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Kensington 1879

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Kensington]

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account of glanders numbered 602, and from farcy 395—total 997.
The totals for 1877 and 1878 were 486 and 571 respectively.
In the report above referred to, I submitted tables showing the
number of horses slaughtered in each month, from January, 1879, to
March, 1880; the number of infected places, and the localities where
the disease had existed. Of 136 horses slaughtered in 15 months, it
appeared that 106 were the property of omnibus and cab proprietors;
12 of tradesmen; 12 of "general dealers, &c.," and 6 of your Yestry. The
seperate stables infected were 60, the majority of them being comprised
within two limited areas, of which Talbot Mews and Colville Mews,
respectively, may be taken as the centres. In the Colville Mews area
there had been some 60 cases within a space of a quarter of a mile
square. No case had been reported in any gentleman's stable or in
any livery yard, and the horses affected, speaking generally, were of a
decidedly low class.
Glanders is looked upon as a contagious disease only, but the occurrence
of case after case in the same stable is quite as suggestive of
aerial infection as of the conveyance of virus from horse to horse by
contact, or through the medium of polluted stable fittings, sponges,
buckets, &c.
It is worthy of remark that in more than one instance glanders
existed in two or more separate localities on premises in the occupation
of the same person, pointing to the probability that the contagium
had been conveyed by people in the employ of the horse proprietor. The
way in which cases of glanders and farcy have been mixed up in some
of the stables is suggestive of an intimacy of relation between the
diseases, if, indeed, they be not varieties of one disease. The spread
of glanders points, I think, to the insufficiency of the processes usually
adopted for cleansing and disinfecting premises, and which obviously
were insufficient to destroy the specific virus. There was one case and
only one, in a large stud of horses belonging to the London General
Omnibus Company, the presumption being that, by the measures
adopted for purifying the premises, the disease was stamped out without
loss of time.
To prevent misconception, it should be well understood that the
date of death of any given horse, does not necessarily furnish a clue to
the date of attack. There are, doubtless, at any time many horses in the

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