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

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City of London 1951

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

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Nationality of VesselsNumber inspected during the year.Defects of original construction.Structural defects through wear and tear.Dirt, vermin and other conditions prejudicial to health.
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1, Steps taken for the detection of Rodent Plague -
The Port Health Authority employs thirteen Rodent Operators working in
conjunction with and under the supervision of the Sanitary Inspectors®
The Rodent Operators' first duty is the examination of such ships in his area
as are due for inspection -under Article 28 of the International Sanitary Convention
relating to the granting of Deratisation and Deratisation Exemption Certificates..
His second duty is to visit all ships arriving in his district, to search for
evidence of rats, paying particular attention to vessels -which have arrived from
plague infected ports and to visit such vessels during the discharge of cargo.
The Rodent Operators' third duty is the examination of shore premises for
signs of rat infestation paying particular attention to premises adjoining the
berths of vessels from plague infected ports.
In 1941 the Port Health Authority instituted a Rodent Control Scheme in all
docks and premises of the Port of London Authority, on behalf of that Authority
and in the premises of the tenants of the Authority on behalf of the occupiers.
This scheme, in its early days, relied principally on trapping but with
experience and the application of a more up-to-date knowledge of the habits of rats,
new and scientific methods of poisoning gradually took the place of trapping, the
latter now only being occasionally used to clear up residual rats, if any, which have
escaped a major poison operation.
2. Measures taken to prevent the passage of rats between ships and shore -
The Port of London Authority have made bye-laws requiring the master of every
ship to cause all ropes and mooring tackle to be fitted Mth guards to prevent rats
passing from ship to shore. The bye-laws also prescribe that -when the discharge
or loading of cargo is not actually proceeding, one gangway, whitened for a length
of 10-feet at the end next the vessel , may be used as a communication between the
ship and the shore®
3. Methods of Deratisation of -
(a) SHIPS -
(i) The burning of sulphur at the rate of 3-lbs. per 1,000 cubic feet of
space for a period of not less than 6 hours.
The destruction of rats, whether it be by the open pot method or by
sulphur gas is efficient and the great advantage is that when applied in the holds of
a ship, the crew need not be put ashore overnight.
Unfortunately a number of countries have, for some time past, refused
to accept as valid, International Certificates, where this method of rat destruction
has been employed, consequently it has fallen out of use.

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