HC Deb 07 May 1891 vol 353 cc274-5
MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, in view of the renewed outbreak of influenza, he will take immediate steps to communi- cate, in a convenient form, to the medical profession and the public, any information as to the causes of that disease and its remedies which may be in the possession of the Department and its medical officers; and if he will order an inquiry to be held in the places principally affected by the present outbreak in order to throw further light on the conditions of the disease?


An extensive inquiry has been made by Dr. Parsons and Dr. Brace Low, two of the Medical Inspectors of the Local Government Board, and inquiries from the Medical Officers of Health throughout the country, but no information has been obtained to prove the origin of influenza. The disease would appear to have been introduced from abroad. The phenomena of its distribution may for the most part be explained by regarding influenza as an infective disease having a short incubation period, and having an infective quality in its earlier stages (perhaps before distinctive symptoms of influenza have appeared), and finding the large majority of persons susceptible to its infection. The question of remedies, from a medical point of view, is not one within the scope of the Department. On the re-appearance of influenza last month some further local inquiries were made on behalf of the Board by Dr. Bruce Low, principally in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The general belief is that the disease was in some way brought to Hull in the course of the month of February. No new light, however, has by these inquiries been thrown on the conditions of influenza. The Report of Dr. Parsons is in type and being revised, and, I hope, will soon be in the hands of the public.


Will a formal inquiry be held?


No formal inquiry will be held, but we are getting information from the various Medical Officers of Health; and a careful watch is being kept, with the object of detecting any thing that may throw light on the subject. The Report from which I am speaking will shortly be in the hands of the public, and all information in our possession at the time will be given with it.