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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DIPHTHERIA. It is disappointing to continue to have to record cases and deaths from
this essentially preventable disease. There were 41 cases of diphtheria during the year
giving a case rate of 0.24 per 1,000 total population, compared with a rate of 0.19 for the
previous year. The national rate for 1948 was 0.08 and it is significant that this rate
has dropped each year over the past decade.
Only a quarter of these cases were of children under 5, almost half came from the
age group 5-9 years, while there were 9 cases in adults.
There were two deaths from this disease, one in an unimmunised girl of 4 years, the
other in an adult.
IMMUNISATION. Out of an estimated population of 17,140 of children under 5 years
8,256 or 48 per cento had completed a course of immunisation by the end of the year; of
children between 5 and 15 years,(estimated population 24,224) 16,822 or 69 per cent. had
been immunised against diphtheria* These immunisation figures refer to children protected
at any time before the end of the year; only a proportion of them were Immunised during
the year.
Arrangements for immunisation were unchanged under the new Act and consisted
essentially of regular weekly sessions in each of the Council's Maternity and Child Welfare
Clinics, and periodical visits to the schools to immunise those children who had been missed
in pre-school age, and to give refresher doses to those who had been previously immunised.

The following figures show the number of children immunised during the year under these arrangements-

Completed Pull CourseRefresher Doses
(a) under 5 years3,058 )4,415
(b) 5 to 14 years1,589 )
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MEASLES. The number of cases of measles notified during the year was 1,712-873 in
males and 839 in females This compared with 1,510 cases notified during the previous year.
The case rate (per 1,000 population) was 9.86.
There were no deaths.
FOOD POISONING. No individual cases of food poisoning nor any outbreak was reported
during the year.
The fact is that in the absence of an outbreak it is not easy to distinguish a case
of food poisoning from gastro-enteritis from other sources.
It would almost certainly be quite wrong to assume that no cases of food poisoning
did occur within the borough during the year.
WHOOPING COUGH. During 1948 there were reported 652 cases of this disease. As is
the rule it was somewhat more frequent in female (306 males, 346 females). The case rate
was 3.75 per 1,000 population.

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