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

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City of London 1924

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

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ss. " Glenapp " arrived from Kobe, 12th February. On January 15th, a
sailor (Chinaman) complained of feeling unwell; no rash. On the 16th a pimple
was noticed on his forehead. Patient was at once isolated ; general rash developed
later, and he was landed at Suez on the 27th.
Bedding, &c., was destroyed ; cabin and forecastle fumigated.
No other case occurred.
The ss. " Macedonia " arrived from Kobe on the 29th February. On January
12th a European steward was landed at Kobe with smallpox. Another case (a
native) occurred in Shanghai.
The crew were vaccinated, and thorough disinfection of vessel carried out in
Kobe. No other case occurred.
The ss. " Mentor " arrived from Kobe on the 16th March. On February 16th
a stewardess developed smallpox, was isolated and landed at Colombo on the 22nd.
Probable place of infection Shanghai on February 3rd. Patient vaccinated at
birth and not since. All passengers and crew were vaccinated at Colombo ; effects
were also landed, bedding destroyed, and vessel disinfected. No further case occurred.
ss. " Caledonia " arrived from Bombay on the 4th April. On March 17th a
saloon steward was taken ill with fever ; rash came out on March 20th, with severe
headache, backache and vomiting. Patient landed at Aden as a case of smallpox.
Disinfection of infected quarters on the vessel was carried out at Aden ;
clothing thrown overboard. Four persons were also vaccinated.
A suspicious case was landed at Denton Hospital on arrival of this vessel.
This case turned out to be one of skin rash.
Hospital quarters were fumigated ; effects were removed to Denton Hospital.
A native attendant was taken ashore for disinfection, and returned to the ship.
ss. " Manela " arrived from Karachi on 29th April. On 28th March a Lascar
was taken ill with smallpox and sent to hospital at Karachi the same day. On the
30th March, the third cook was taken ill and sent to hospital at Bombay on the
The whole crew were vaccinated at Karachi, and the vessel disinfected. The
crew's quarters were again disinfected at Bombay, all the crew being landed and
their clothing and bedding put through a steam disinfector.
ss. " Devanha " arrived from Bombay on 30th April. A baker reported ill
on the 15th April—case diagnosed as smallpox and landed at Port Said on the
18th April. On the 12th April a passenger who had been a smallpox contact
ashore, reported sick—rash came out 15th April. Case landed at Port Said on the
At Port Said all cabins were fumigated ; contents taken ashore to Isolation
Hospital. Personal effects landed with patients. All contacts were vaccinated.
Contents of the Isolation Flospital were landed at Gravesend for disinfection ;
the Hospital was also fumigated.
ss. " Rhexenor " arrived from Dairen at 8 a.m., on May 4th. Vessel reported
all well on arrival, with the exception of one death from broncho-pneumonia and
one case beri-beri.
On May 6th information was received from Glasgow that a passenger (D.B.S.)
per this vessel had there been removed to hospital recovering from smallpox.
The names and addresses of the crew were at once notified to the various
Medical Officers of Health, and the living quarters on the vessel disinfected.
This vessel reported all well and no sickness during the voyage, and the
Surgeon certified accordingly. The man had been put on board the " Rhexenor "
by the Consul. The master produced his Board of Trade certificate whereon was
written " Illness suspected smallpox proved negative."
In reply to my enquiry, the ship's Surgeon reported his observations on the
case wherein it was now obvious that, at Suez, a misdiagnosis had been made.
On May 8th, Glasgow reported that the diagnosis of smallpox had been confirmed,
and gave details of a history of two former cases (one fatal) on the ship