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

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West Ham 1950

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

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This Centre is now under the administration of the Hospital Management
Committee. I am indebted to the courtesy of Dr.F.G.Macdonald, the Medical
Director for the following notes on the work during the year. This service
has, of course, a close bearing on one aspect of the public health.
The figures in brackets are the corresponding ones for 1949:-
New Patients 398 (483)
Total Attendances 4804 (6278)
The total number of patients who attended was 575 (669). This figure Includes 177
who were already under treatment or observation at the beginning of the year.

The diagnosis of New Cases was as follows:-

Syphilis in primary or secondary stage5(18)
Syphilis in the early Latent stage5(24)
Syphilis in the later (non-infective) stage20( 8)
Congenital Syphilis6( 8)
Top Sore2( -)
Cases previously treated elsewhere16(27)
Return Cases40(41)
Non-Venereal Conditions278(303)
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The marked decline in the cases of early infective Syphilis and Gonorrhoea is noticeable,
and is apparently not peculiar to this clinic. That it is the result of increase chaste and
continent endeavour is unlikely, and there Is no evidence that a larger proportion of those who
risk these infections take any prophylactic steps at the time. A sufficiently long period has
not yet elapsed to form an opinion as to the possibility of early syphilis being suppressed by
the indiscriminate use of antibiotics given for other conditions. If this is happening, the
incidence of the later forms of syphilis will increase during the next few years. To a lesser
extent the same possibilities apply to gonorrhoea, but there is no question that the main
reason for the fewer cases of gonorrhoea seen in this and other clinics is the simplicity of
its treatment by penicillin and other antibiotics. Many cases are in consequence treated by
general practitioners.
Under the heading Non-Venereal conditions is included a number of cases of Urethritis.
The incidence of this condition has increased during the last few years, and its Importance
has now been recognised by the Ministry of Health in that future returns of figures will be
listed In a separate category. Urethritis is now generally regarded as a venereal infection.
The organism or virus responsible has not yet been definitely identified, and the condition,
though not usually of a serious nature, does not always respond quickly to treatment, and is
very prone to relapse.

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