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

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Carshalton 1952

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Carshalton]

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Only one case of erysipelas of the leg in an elderly male was notified
during the year. The number of notified cases which, in pre-penicillin
and sulphonamide days, ranged from 10 to 20 per year, has fallen
steadily. It is difficult to believe that there has been any substantial
fall in the number of people infected in this way by the streptococcus
which continues to flourish in the human host. The more probable
explanation is that at the first indication of skin infiamation the modern
antibiotics or the sulpha drugs are used with such effective results that
the illness is largely aborted and is not deemed sufficiently definite
to be notifiable.
Pneumonia was less prevalent, 30 cases being notified of which
7 were stated to be of influenzal origin. One-third of the cases were of
children under 5 years and one-third of adults of 50 years and over.
For many years the prevalence of measles has shown a major
wave approximately every alternate year with a minor epidemic in the
years between. 1952 followed upon a year of high incidence and in
conformity with the usual pattern the number of cases fell to about
half that of the year before. The rise in prevalence commenced in
February and continued until July, with June as the peak period. The
total of cases notified was 556, of which 537 were residents of Carshalton
and more than half the total occurred in May and June.
Distribution throughout the district was related to the level of
immunity in the different parts, resulting from the amount of previous
infection. It is safe to say that since there is, as yet, no known means of
preventing measles this factor of the level of natural immunity alone
determines the extent of the illness in any given area. Efforts at control
are, however, anything but useless. Whilst it would seem that every
child sooner or later contracts measles, it is important to protect very
young babies and those debilitated from some other cause, since an
attack of measles in such cases may well prove fatal. Much can be done
to defer an attack by the prompt removal of delicate babies from contact
with measles and the use of convalescent or adult serum which will
provide temporary immunity or, at worst, modify the illness if the
child is already infected.
None of the measles cases was fatal.

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