HC Deb 10 February 1881 vol 258 c507

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether experience has not shown that the aggregation of smallpox patients in the metropolitan asylums has frequently been attended with a serious outbreak of the disease in the surrounding houses; whether the number of deaths in the metropolis from small-pox since 1870 have not on the average been twice as numerous as in the previous eleven years; and, whether any steps are about to be taken to provide more effectually than under the present system for the prevention and cure of the disease?


Sir, it has been alleged that the aggregation of smallpox patients in the Metropolitan asylums has been attended with an outbreak of small-pox in the surrounding houses, and a careful inquiry has recently been directed by the Local Government Board to ascertain whether or not that allegation is well founded; but until the result of the investigation now pending has been ascertained, it would be premature on my part to express an opinion on the subject. There is no doubt that the average number of deaths from smallpox in the Metropolis since 1870 has been largely in excess of that in the previous 11 years; but that arises from including 1871, a most exceptional year, in the latter period. The deaths since 1870 amounted to 15,533, of which 7,878, or more than half, occurred in 1871. If, however, the 12 years 1860–71 are compared with the nine years 1872-80, it will be found that in the latter period the average number of deaths was only 850 as against 1,425 in the former period. As regards the steps taken to prevent the disease, I have recently caused circulars to be addressed to the various sanitary authorities and Boards of Guardians, pointing out the measures to be adopted with a view of insuring vaccination, and re-vaccination as far as practicable, and I am glad to be able to state that the local authorities generally have made a ready response to that appeal.