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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Rat Fumigations—continued.

Date.Vessel.Where lying.Parts of Vessel Fumigated.Fumi-gant used.No. of Rats reported found dead after fumigation.
Dec. 20 "Bellglade "Millwall DockWhole ShipSulphur Dioxide.40
„ 24 "Kent "Green's Dry DockWhole Ship, except Boiler and Chart Rooms."21
„ 27 "Antonia "Royal Albert DockWhole Ship, except Boiler and Chart Rooms, and Bunkers."
„ 24 "Trecarn "Millwall DockWhole Ship"
„ 27 "Lancastria "Victoria DockWhole Ship, except Engine, Boiler, Chart Rooms, and Bunkers."
„ 27 "Ausonia "Millwall Dock""15

It is a matter of interest that the rat report of the ss. " Merkara " showed
nothing which could suggest rattiness on the ship. On February 14th the ship was
fumigated at Calcutta—the holds only—with Sulphur Dioxide and no dead rats
were found.
Amongst the rat attractive material in the cargo was grain, ground nuts, rice
and hides.
A fumigation of the crew's quarters was performed by the Fumigation Services,
Ltd., who placed the information at my disposal that no less than 55 rats were
found in the firemen's quarters.
The only possible suggestion which could be made on the information, and
supposing that the fumigation of the holds in Calcutta was satisfactory, was that
on discharge of the cargo the rats sought undisturbed quarters while in Port and
found them in the crew's quarters. One could not, under the circumstances,
of necessity consider that the ship was excessively ratty.
The instance is one to be recorded amongst rat experiences.
In ordering the disinfestation of a ship, your Medical Officer received a letter
from the shipping company concerned, stating at its conclusion : "We shall be
pleased to carry out your instructions regarding this matter, always providing
there be no detention of the steamer in doing so." This proviso on the part of the
Company called for the following letter which was duly sent to the Company
concerned :—
31st October, 1924.
ss. " "
In reply to your letter of the 30th instant with regard to the disinfestation of the above
vessel, I must point out that my letter must be accepted as an Order under the Rats and Mice
(Destruction) Act, 1919, and a specific requirement under the Port Sanitary Authorities
(Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 1920.
Your proviso that " there be no detention " of the steamer is not consonant with the
duties and powers of the Port of London Sanitary Authority, though the Authority, as is
customary, is always ready to consider any point in the convenience of shipping, where this
is brought to their notice specifically with details, in any case arising.
Your obedient servant,
Medical Officer of Health,
Port of London.