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

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Port of London 1910

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

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In 1907 the regulations of the Local Government Board were issued
relative to Plague, Yellow Fever and Cholera, in which for the first time,
powers were given to the Port Sanitary Authority to deal with rats on board
The foliowing hand-bill was, therefore, printed in English, French and
Spanish, and a copy was handed by the Assistant Medical Officer to the
Master of each vessel arriving at Gravesend from a plague suspected port.
The Local Government Board have issued Regulations for the
prevention of the introduction of Plague, Yellow Fever and Cholera into
this country, and whereas by such Regulations it is provided, inter alia,
as follows:—
Regulation 24 (2).
" The master of a ship which by reason of plague is an infected ship, or
" a suspected ship, or which has come from, or has, during the voyage, called
" at a port infected with plague, or in which there are rats infected with
" plague, or in which there is or has been during the voyage an unusual
" mortality among rats, shall, under the direction and to the satisfaction
" of the Medical Officer of Health, take all such precautions or employ all
" such means for effectually stopping the access of rats from the ship to the
" shore as in the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health are measures
" reasonably necessary for the prevention of danger arising to public health
" from the ship ;"
This is to give Notice that, in my opinion, given under the Regulation
aforesaid, the following precautions are reasonably necessary for stopping
the access of rats from the ship to the shore:—
1. All ropes and mooring tackle for securing the vessel either to the
shore or mooring buoys, shall be fitted with metal brushes, funnels, or
other effective guards, the portions of such ropes and mooring tackle
leading from the vessel to a distance from the vessel's side of at least four
feet shall be coated each night with fresh tar. Ropes may, if desired, be
protected by a covering of canvas or yarns before tarring.
2. When not engaged in discharging cargo, one gangway only shall be
permitted to afford means of communication between the ship and the shore.
3. The end of the gangway near the ship shall be whitened for a length
of 10 feet, and the watchman shall keep the gangway pulled in board after
sunset, or it shall be guarded in some approved manner.
4. When alongside the quay, the ports on the side of the vessel nearest
the quay shall be kept closed after sunset.
5. All empty cases and barrels, especially those from the store rooms,
shall be examined before being landed, to ensure that no rats are contained

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