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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Metropolis affected with glanders of which the "Local Authority"
knows nothing. Such horses are usually employed in night cabs and
omnibuses, and the only way to detect them would be for the Inspectors
of the Board, with the assistance of the Police, to make raids at
uncertain intervals on cab and 'bus stands, and to examine every horse
on the rank, and stables from which diseased horses had come. The
dread of such inspections, and of the consequences of detection, would, I
doubt not, lead to frequent disclosure of diseased horses. As showing the
inveterate tendency to concealment, I may refer again to the outbreak
at Colville Mews, where, in the early part of last year, some ten horses
had been killed or had died before the disease was brought to light,
and then only owing to the spread of it to human beings. Not long
after, moreover, we were instrumental in bringing to knowledge a
group of cases that had occurred at another mews, and there was a race
between the Police officer and the proprietor of the stables which
should be the first in arriving at the Board Inspector's surgery to
report the occurrence of the last case. The horse owner was first; but
he was successfully prosecuted by the Local Authority on the ground
that he did not immediately report the case as required by the Order
of the Privy Council.
It would be interesting, did time permit, to discuss probable modes
of spread of glanders, other than those obvious ones to which I have
alluded, but I shall only refer at this time to the probability of
infection being conveyed by virus deposited by diseased horses in
public drinking troughs. So strongly did I feel on this point that I
ventured some time back to recommend, among other precautions, that
your Yestry's horses should be separately watered each from its own
bucket, and not suffered to use a common drinking trough even in the
stable yard. Such precaution is the more necessary because in the
earlier stages, and in the chronic form of the disease, it is highly
probable that the specific ulceration of the nostrils which characterises
the malady may be slight, or so high up to be invisible to the
unassisted sight, though it may be worthy of consideration whether it
might not be practicable to make an examination of any suspicious
case with the aid of a nasal speculum?
I have not any means of ascertaining whether the deaths from
glanders in Kensington have been more numerous, in proportion to the

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