HC Deb 13 June 1910 vol 17 cc1018-9

asked the Under-Secretary for the Colonies whether it had been decided to appoint a new Mediterranean Fever Commission for the purpose of investigating the manner in which goats became infected, seeing that it was officially stated in evidence before the Royal Commission on Vivisection (Q. 14242) that no goats had been infected by the alleged Malta fever germ, that it did not give rise to any ill-health, and that it did not give rise to any fever; and, seeing that, according to official statistics, Malta fever had been practically extinguished from among the British garrison before the order of 1st July, 1906, for the prohibition of goats' milk was issued, what public ends were sought by spending time and public money in prosecuting a research which appeared to have no bearing whatever upon the question of Mediterranean fever?

Colonel SEELY

It has been decided to appoint another Commission for the investigation of the question to which my hon. Friend refers. The evidence of Sir David Bruce before the Royal Commission on vivisection, to which allusion is made, was to the effect that the goats, though their blood and milk contained the micrococcus of Malta fever and they were therefore capable of infecting man with the disease, remained themselves apparently healthy. Such tolerance of disease germs is, the Secretary of State is advised, a common physiological phenomenon. My hon. Friend is mistaken as to the statistics of admissions to hospital among the troops for Malta fever. In 1905 there were 643 such admissions up to July, 1906; when the prohibition of the use of goats' milk was issued there were 123, for the re- mainder of the year, 40; for 1907, 11; 1908, 5; 1909, 1; and 1910 to date, 0. As it is not practicable to prohibit the use of goats' milk among the civil population it remains to investigate the causes of the infection of goats, and, if possible, to remove them.