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

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Port of London 1907

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Port of London]

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16
PLAGUE.
This disease has been extremely prevalent in India during the past year.
It has been estimated that the deaths up to the end of the year will
probably exceed one million and a quarter.
During the year a large number of ports have been, at one time or other,
considered and treated as infected—amongst these are ports in the Persian
Gulf, Straits Settlements, Siam, Cambodia, Chinese Ports, Japan, Formosa,
Australasia, South Africa, South American ports, San Francisco, Mauritius,
Northern Africa, especially Orang, Phillipville, Bona, Tunis, Egypt, and
Levant ports.
At Hamburg, in May, a vessel from Buenos Aires landed two cases of
Plague which had developed during the voyage, and in July, a vessel from
the same place also landed a case of Plague.
In Glasgow there appears to have been two cases of Plague, but the
infection did not spread, and it was not necessary to exercise special medical
inspection of vessels arriving in London from that port.
The s.s. "Clan Macalister," of Glasgow, official number 115,756, from
Chittagong, arrived at Gravesend on the 17th January. On making enquiries
it was ascertained that during the voyage dead rats had been found in the
room where the natives' foodstuffs were stored, on the following dates :—
29th December, 1906 6 dead rats.
5th January, 1907 3 „
11th ,, ,, 3 ,,
It would appear that these were the dates on which the natives' store rooms
were cleaned out, and on the 11th January the store room was fumigated with
sulphur dioxide gas. One dead rat was found next day, and its death was
probably due to the fumes of the gas.
No dead rats were subsequently found either in the natives' store room or
elsewhere, consequently no bacteriological examination was made. There
seemed to be no apparent cause for the death of the rats.
All persons were found to be well on arrival, and no suspicious symptom
occurred during the stay of the vessel in the Port.
Bearing in mind how susceptible rats are to contract Plague, it was deemed
necessary to keep the vessel under strict observation during its stay in Port.
The facts were reported to the Local Government Board, and the ship sailed
for Dundee on the 21st January, the Medical Officer of Health of that port
being duly notified.


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