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

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Walthamstow 1909

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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After a considerable amount of school visiting and personal examination
of the children, I traced the source of infection to a boy ill with
the fever, but with whom no precautions were taken by the parents.
The latter believed that the boy had "a bit of a sore throat," and
allowed the other children of the house to attend school.
Subsequent to the Mid-summer holidays, a fresh outbreak was averted
by the vigilance of the teachers.
In response to a circular letter, several children with suspicious
symptoms were referred to me, and among them I found two in varying
stages of peeling.
Parents are not expected to be always able to recognise Scarlatina
when occurring in the home, but certainly every mother should accept
it as a duty to the community, and to her children, to at once isolate
any child showing symptoms of Sore Throat ox Feverishness accompanied
by a Rash however faint, and to call in a doctor.
Were such simple precautions taken it would not be possible that the
26 cases discovered by me could escape recognition before causing infection
to others.
It is this neglect of a simple duty on the part of parents which negatives
so much of the work carried out by the Public Authority on behalf of
the children.
With the co-operation of the parents and teachers, results commensu"
rate with the money spent on our Isolation Hospital would accrue in
the lessened incidence of Scarlet Fever.
The greater susceptibility of the young to attack and death from this
disease, and the decreasing liability acquired with age, should induce
parents to exercise more care in the oversight of their children, whether
of school age or under.
The deaths resulting from Scarlet Fever were 11. Four occurred in
children under 7 years of age, and 7 in those over that period.
The death-rate was five times greater in the former than in the latter.