§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been directed to the case of leprosy in a Swedish emigrant, as reported in the Liverpool Courier of 22nd May; whether the woman in question was permitted to land in and pass through England, to pass the examination of the Medical Emigration Officers of Health at Liverpool at their survey of the Cunard steamer Cephalonia on 696 the 17th April last, and the second inspection at Queenstown by an officer of the same Department; whether it is true that the woman in question was not allowed to land by the Port Authorities in Boston, U.S.A., after inspection by their Medical Inspector and several eminent American scientists, who declared the case to be one of genuine leprosy; and that the Cunard Company were, in consequence, compelled to bring her back to England; if it is true that on her arrival in Liverpool she was conveyed to the Brownlow Hill Workhouse, and there examined, as reported in the Liverpool Weekly Mercury—by Dr. Hope, Assistant Medical Officer of Health for the city, Dr. Hill, the Board of Trade Officer, and Dr. Robertson, who entertained little doubt that the case was one of leprosy,and made special arrangements for her complete isolation; whether such isolation was effected on board the Cunard steamship on either passage; what has been done with the patient; and whether any steps will be taken to prevent the loathsome and infectious disease in question, as well as other contagious and infectious diseases difficult of detection, being propagated in consequence of the present system of inspection by Medical Board of Trade Inspectors?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir M. HICKS BEACH, Bristol, W.)
The woman in question was permitted to land at Hull and pass through England. The Board of Trade have no 697 Statutory authority to examine passengers arriving in this country from abroad. The woman did pass the examination of the Medical Emigration Officers at Liverpool before embarking upon the Cunard steamship Cephalonia. These officers regarded the case as one of lupus of a non-contagious character; she brought with her a medical certificate to that effect. She had a husband and six children in America whom she was going to join; and my officers did not think there was sufficient justification for preventing her proceeding in the ship, but, in consequence of her appearance, it was required that she and her immediate party should be kept in one compartment, isolated from the rest of the passengers. The woman was not re-inspected by the Medical Officer of the Board of Trade at Queenstown; such re-inspection would be unusual. I learn from the Cunard Company that this passenger was allowed to land at Boston and remain on shore for 12 days, and that she was returned, not so much on account of the disease, as that her husband could not pay for her maintenance in hospital. She was isolated as a matter of precaution on her passage home, and her apartments were afterwards thoroughly fumigated, stripped, and disinfected, and she was sent by the Cunard Company to her home in Sweden, accompanied by a special attendant. On passing through Liverpool the patient was, I understand, taken to the Brownlow Hill Workhouse, where she was visited, unofficially, by the two Medical Officers of the Board of Trade who had previously examined her. These officers report that her later symptoms had more of the appearance of leprosy, as understood by them. Every precaution is taken by the Board of Trade and its officers to prevent, as far as possible, the propagation of contagious and infectious diseases. It is to the interest of all steamship companies carrying passengers to immediately isolate any suspicious case that may break out during the voyage, and subsequently fumigate, disinfect, and paint any space occupied by such a case, and I am informed that this was done in this particular case.
§ DR. TANNER
Does not this case exemplify the necessity of taking steps to give more power to the medical 698 officers on board steamers of rejecting certain passengers, and thereby protecting the rest from any infection which may be promulgated in consequence of the defective Board of Trade arrangements?
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I do not think this case exemplifies anything of the kind, nor do I believe that the present arrangements are defective.
§ DR. TANNER
Am I to understand that a case of leprosy—one of the worst diseases in the world—is to be looked upon so lightly that Englishmen, and passengers generally, on board a steamship may be exposed to such an infection?
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
No, Sir. As I have already explained, the case was considered to be one of lupus, and not of leprosy; but care was taken even then to guard against its spreading.
§ DR. TANNER
Will the right hon. Gentleman communicate with the American Authorities as to whether this was not a case of leprosy passed by the Board of Trade but rejected by the American Authorities?