HC Deb 14 March 1923 vol 161 cc1557-9
66. Mr. R. DAVIES

asked the Minister of Health whether, during the recent small-pox scare in London, any intimation was sent out from his Department to medical officers of health or other persons on the subject of the closing of business premises in the event of smallpox occurring thereon; and, if so, what was the exact tenour of such intimation?


The only, communication which can be traced on this subject is a statement in reply to an inquiry by a certain firm of solicitors, that the Department were not aware of any statute or regulation empowering the Minister of Health to order the closing of a factory in which cases of small-pox had occurred. The question whether it is desirable or otherwise to advise the closing of a factory on account of the occurrence of cases of small-pox rests with the medical officer of health of the district.

72. Mr. F. LEE

asked the Minister of Health whether he can state the methods adopted by the medical inspectors of his Department in order to decide whether cases of illness examined by them are smallpox or not; and whether the vaccinal condition of the patients is taken into account as one of the factors to decide the diagnosis?


The medical officers of the Ministry who advise in regard to the diagnosis of suspected cases of small-pox are those who have had considerable experience of that disease, and in forming an opinion as to the nature of the illness they take into account all known factors, including the vaccinal condition of the patients.

73. Mr. LEE

asked the Minister of Health whether the official from his Department who went into Derbyshire to investigate the outbreak of small-pox has made his report; whether such report is available to Members; and whether the suggestion of the district council that there, should be an isolation of contacts is being accepted?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. These reports ale intended to be confidential and, as at present advised, I do not propose to publish the reports made by medical officers of the Department in regard to this outbreak. As regards the last part of the question, I am advised that isolation of the contacts of a case a small-pox is not generally necessary either in the interests of the contacts or for t he protection of the public, unless and until the contacts themselves develop the disease.


Are we to understand that the report is not available for the council or councils interested in the cases?


Yes, Sir; it is a confidential report to the Department.


Is it not essential to isolate if it is a case of infectious disease?


The reference is to "contacts," not to people actually suffering from the disease.


It is infectious!


The "contacts" are not suffering from the disease.