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

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West Ham 1948

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

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(Report by Dr. F.G. Macdonald, Director of the
Special Treatment Centre, Queen Mary's Hospital, West Ham)
New Patients 507
Total Attendances 6l48
The diagnosis of new patients was as follows:-
Gonorrhoea 74
Syphilis in primary or secondary stage 13
Syphilis in early latent stage 14
Syphilis in later (non-infective) stages 13
Congenital Syphilis 7
Soft Sore 0
Patients previously treated elsewhere 29
Return Cases 30
Non-Venereal Conditions 327
The total number of patients who attended was 677. These include 170 who were already
under treatment or observation on January 1st,, 1948. During the year, 403 patients were discharged,
cured or were found not to be in need of treatment.
The attendances by Area were as followss:-
West Ham 3803
East Ham 434
Essex 1748
L.C.C. 148
Other Areas 15
It is significant that of the 14 cases of Syphilis in the early latent stage, 8 of them
were in pregnant women, whose condition was first revealed by routine testing of the blood Wassermann
Reaction or other tests for Syphilis.
In each case. the history was thoroughly investigated, the blood test repeated, and, in some
cases, a specimen of blood sent for confirmation to the Medical Research Council's V.D. Reference
Laboratory, before treatment was begun. Any other children were investigated, and in all but 2
cases it was possible to persuade the husband to attend. It is interesting that the husband and
children in all but one case were found to show no signs of infection. It is possible that, in
spite of denials, the husbands had had previously treated Syphilis, or the signs may have been
suppressed by penicillin treatment given elsewhere for some other condition. Again, it is possible
that some of the women had latent Congenital Syphilis. It is satisfactory to be able to record
that, following treatment, all these women have produced healthy babies. Whatever the origin of
the infection in these cases may have been, the mere fact that they were discovered is a reminder
that Congenital Syphilis is a preventable disease, and of the supreme importance of routine tests
being performed on every pregnant woman to exclude Syphilis.
The year showed a further decline in the number of venereal disease cases, and the impression
is that this decline was general throughout the country.
Should this fall continue, it would be interesting if one could arrive at a conclusion
as to why this should be so. Such factors, as less infection being brought into the country by
demobolized service people and incoming allies, together with the quick control of infectivity