HC Deb 27 January 1902 vol 101 cc963-4
MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether he is aware that several cases of smallpox have been traced to an outbreak on the S.S. "Anglian," from Boston, and docked in the Royal Albert Dock on 3rd January last; whether the Port Sanitary Authority thoroughly inspected the S.S. "Anglian," and why the existence of smallpox on board was not discovered at once and notified, seeing that the dockers were engaged for two or three days dealing with the cargo before the disease was notified; and, whether, with a view to prevent similar outbreaks, steps have been taken to insure that vessels arriving with disease on board shall be placed in quarantine until a clean bill of health has been certified for by the Port Sanitary Authority.


I am aware of the facts referred to in the first paragraph of the Question. I am informed that on the arrival of the vessel at Gravesend the Captain reported "all well" and no "sickness during the voyage." As the ship did not come from an infected port, the persons on board were not medically examined and the vessel proceeded to dock, where the cattlemen, after the cattle had been discharged, cleared from the ship. On the following day one of the cattlemen feeling ill presented himself at the Branch Seamen's Hospital where he was seen to be suffering from smallpox, and he was conveyed to Hospital. The Port Medical Officer traced nearly all the persons who had left the ship, and in all five cases of smallpox have been dealt with. Vaccination was performed in the case of all persons on board willing to be vaccinated. The vessel has been disinfected and the names and addresses of the persons on board have been notified to the Medical Officers of Health of the Districts concerned. The system of quarantine is not in force in this country. The method adopted consists of medical inspection of ships coining from infected places, or having illness on board, isolation of infected persons, and keeping under observation those brought into contact with them. The Medical Officer of the Port of London has taken steps to have all vessels from Boston and New York, where it is stated that smallpox is pre- valent, medically inspected on arrival at Gravesend.