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

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Harrow 1960

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Harrow]

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Although there were only a few weeks in the year that there were no
notifications of measles, there were in the whole year very few cases. In
only three weeks were more than ten notifications received until the very
last week when quite suddenly, there were forty-seven notifications ;
this was the start of the outbreak of the earlier weeks of 1961. Even
including these forty-seven cases, in all only 180 notifications were received
during the year.
In general, the clinical attack was mild. No sufferers were admitted
to hospital and this infection caused no fatalities.
Immunisation. Measles is an infection to which virtually everyone
at some time or other succumbs. It occurs in large scale outbreaks which
attack urban communities every other year, this pattern presumably
being because this period of time has to elapse before there are sufficient
susceptibles in the population. Although much less so than it was even in
recent years, measles is still a damaging complaint, especially when
attacking young children. Hitherto, it has not been possible to prepare a
vaccine to give protection against it. Instead, where it has been necessary
to protect a child, reliance has had to be placed on passive immunity
induced by the injection of serum prepared from the blood of those who
have had an attack of measles. This passive immunity lasts only some two
to three weeks. The use of this serum is restricted to those in whom it is
especially necessary for some reason to ward-off an attack. In general
then, it has been given only to contacts who are very small children or
who are ill or with a view to checking the spread of infection such as in a
hospital ward. A few years ago the prospect of preparing a vaccine to
produce active immunity became more hopeful when it was shown that
measles virus could be grown in tissue culture of human or monkey
kidney cells. Later, such a virus sub-cultured was grown in cultures of
chick-embryo tissue. The virus grown in this way has diminished pathogenicity
for monkeys and man, and has been used as a prophylactic with
satisfactory antibody response.
As was the case with measles, the district was throughout the year
almost free from whooping cough. In all only 139 notifications were
received. Small numbers of notifications were received each week, there
being only nine weeks when there were none, four of these being the las
weeks of the year.
No persons suffering from whooping cough were removed to hospital,
and this infection caused no fatalities.
Inoculation. During the year, 3,049 children were inoculated
against whooping cough, 1,562 by general practitioners and 1,487 at the

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