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

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West Ham 1934

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for West Ham]

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An epidemic of measles occurs in the Borough every two years
with marked regularity. Most commonly it starts in November,
December or January. This year the first cases appeared in
December, but it was not until the end of February that the
epidemic reached its height. Severe and complicated cases became
numerous, and in March two of the scarlet fever wards were
turned over for the treatment of measles. The epidemic subsided
by the end of May.
Whooping Cough was not prevalent, and only 4 cases were
under treatment.
Four cases of cerebro-spinal meningitis were under treatment,
and one of them proved fatal. Seven other cases which had been
admitted as meningitis were not suffering from the disease.
The lack of accommodation did not permit the regular admission
of cases of erysipelas and pneumonia. A few such cases, however,
were under treatment during the year, and are referred to
At the beginning of the year there were 234 patients in residence,
and 1,864 were admitted during the year, making a total
of 2,098 cases under treatment. Of these, 1,797 were discharged,
75 died, and 226 remained under treatment at the end of the year.

The chief causes of death during the year are briefly summarised as follows:—

Scarlet Fever caused9 deaths
Diphtheria caused37 „
Measles caused8 „
Pneumonia caused9 „
Meningitis (various forms)4 „
Whooping Cough caused1 „
Erysipelas caused1 „
Other diseases caused6 „

The fatality rate, calculated on all the cases admitted during
the year, was 4.02 per cent. ,
Table I. shows the admissions and deaths for each month of
the year, and in Table II. there is shown the annual admissions
and deaths from the principal infectious diseases since the Hospital
was opened.
Scarlet Fever.
During the year 835 patients, notified as suffering from
scarlet fever, were admitted. The diagnosis was revised in 37 of
these cases, or 4.43 per cent. of the admissions. Ninety-four
patients were in residence at the beginning of the year, making a
total of 892 under treatment. Of these, 817 were discharged, 9
died, and 66 remained under treatment at the end of the year.