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

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St Giles (Camberwell) 1857

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Camberwell, St. Giles]

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persons dwelling on the spot, but as it relates to the causes
and mode of prevention of cholera and fever, is so great, that I
have felt it my duty to lay it fully before you. Here was a
colony of men in the prime of life, naturally healthy, and
robust, living in a handsome, airy, properly-ventilated, dry, and
apparently well-drained house, and yet they were constantly subject
to fever, and among the first to suffer from the poison of
cholera. Cholera, as is now generally recognised, is always most
severe and fatal where the drainage is bad or imperfect, and
where emanations from cesspools or sewers abound and accumulate.
The form of fever, too, under which these men laboured
is not an infectious form, but is regarded by almost all practioners
as a pro'duct of the same causes that favour the spread of
cholera itself. It is the form of fever which, in consequence of
defects in drainage, raged some years ago with such violence in
Croydon. With the above facts before them I believe few
would venture to dispute that the unhealtliiness (which was
notorious) of the Peckham Police Station was due to the foetid
cesspool which has now been abolished, and that had this been
abolished years ago a great amount of ill health would have been
prevented, and some lives spared.
I remain, Gentlemen, your obedient servant,
d 2