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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The Regulations as to ships arriving from foreign ports make provisions
prescribing the procedure to be followed with a view to preventing the
transmission of Plague by rats on board ship, and to obviate this, rats are in
all cases to be destroyed when the ship is infected with Plague, or when rats
in the ship are infected with that disease.
In the case of a suspected ship by reason of Plague, this procedure is also
obligatory when the Medical Officer of Health requires it to be followed.
Many vessels arrive from Plague-infected ports, and these may be infected
or suspected, and only enter the Port of London for the purpose of discharging
part of the cargo, afterwards proceeding to some other port in the United
Kingdom. It therefore follows that these Regulations require that in certain
contingencies the rats shall be destroyed on board whilst the cargo, or part of
the cargo, is in the holds.
The question of providing a suitable apparatus to enable rats to be
destroyed on board ship before the discharge of cargo, is under consideration
by the Port of London Sanitary Committee. When that has been installed,
all the staff and machinery will be possessed by the Port of London
Sanitary Authorities necessary for effectively carrying out the regulations
issued by the Local Government Board.
Eight cases were admitted and treated in Denton Hospital, a larger
number than were treated by the Metropolitan Asylums Board's Hospitals
during the year.
The s.s. "Adansi," of Liverpool, official number 113,485, left Maceio on
the 22nd December, 1906, and called at Parahyba on the 12th January, 1907,
where a distressed British seaman was taken on board. This man developed
the rash of Small-pox on the 22nd January, and on arrival of the vessel in
Liverpool on the 7th February he was landed and placed in hospital. The
ship and all effects were disinfected and the crew vaccinated.
The vessel left Liverpool for London on Saturday, the 9th February, and
arrived at Gravesend on the morning of the 13th. The Medical Officer of
Health for Liverpool had duly informed me that a case of Small-pox had been
landed there, and that the vessel was leaving for London.
On arrival of the vessel at Gravesend, the Master reported all well and that
there had been no sickness during the voyage, and repeated this to the
Medical Officer who boarded the vessel. He deemed it necessary to muster
everyone, and on examining them carefully he discovered the fourth engineer
with the rash of Small-pox well out upon him, and forthwith landed him at
Denton Hospital. It was ascertained that the rash came out on the evening
of the 9th February, and was shown to the Master either that night or the
next day, who considered it of no importance.