HC Deb 21 February 1902 vol 103 cc715-6

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that a resident of Rugby, while ill with smallpox in one of the hospital ships under the control of the Metropolitan Asylums Board was visited on 1st February by his mother and sister; that he died the next day, and that the mother has since been attacked with smallpox at Rugby, and is now in the smallpox hospital at Rugby; and whether any, and, if so, what, precautions are taken by the Metropolitan Asylums Board to prevent the spread of infection by visitors to patients.


I am aware of the facts referred to by the hon. Member. As regards the concluding part of the Question, I am informed that the following are the chief precautions taken by direction of the managers of the Metropolitan Asylum District to minimise the risk of infection being spread by persons visiting patients at their Smallpox Hospitals— The visitors on their arrival are invited to partake of a light meal in order that they may be physically better able to resist infection; they are then seen by a Medical Officer who enquires into their condition as to vaccination, and if necessary, urges upon them the advisability of immediate re-vaccination. Before entering the wards the visitors are dressed in overalls and caps, and whilst in the wards they are, on no account allowed to touch, or in any way handle, their relatives, or the beds on which patients are lying. After a brief stay in the wards (some minutes only) the visitors are taken to a dressing-room where the overalls and caps are removed, and they themselves undergo a thorough washing of the hands and face before leaving the hospital premises. The fact of every visit is communicated by letter to the Medical Officer of Health in whose district the visitor resides, whether that visitor has been recently re-vaccinated or otherwise. In the case referred to in the Question, the two visitors refused to be re-vaccinated at the time of their visit to the ships.