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

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City of London 1918

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

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Plague (including suspected cases).

Date. 1918.Name of Vessel, Port of Registry, and Official No.Where from.No. of Cases.How dealt with.
May-Junes.s. " Somali," of Greenock, 114,056Bombay65 cases removed to Port Sanitary Hospital. 1 case Rochester (fatal).
Aug. 8s.s. " Hector," of Liverpool,Calcutta6Removed to Port Sanitary Hospital.
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The s.s. "Somali" arrived from Bombay on the 19th May. Two cases of
Bubonic Plague were removed to Denton Hospital, and a third occurred forthwith.
The crew consisted of 35 Europeans and 321 natives of India, and there were
113 passengers.
The history of the attack is the usual one of a rat infection existing on board.
The European storekeeper found several dead rats in the store-room, which
communicated directly with the hold; he was taken ill on the 9th May and recovered
in Denton Hospital. A native belonging to a supernumerary crew was taken ill on the
18th and another two days after the arrival of the vessel in port.
The diagnosis was confirmed microscopically at Denton Hospital on material from
the third case, which proved fatal.
The names of passengers, crew and men employed in discharging the vessel were
notified to the Medical Officers of Health of the districts of destination to the
number of:—
Passengers 113
Crew 35
Men working on board 155
Total 303
on the principle of " surveillance."
Precautionary fumigation of crew's quarters and disinfection of all native clothing
and bedding were carried out forthwith on arrival.
On completion of cargo discharge the ship was fumigated for the destruction of
rats and fleas before moving from the quarantine grounds.
The details of fumigation and disinfection were more than usually onerous by
reason of the large native supernumerary crew to be dealt with.

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