HC Deb 19 February 1931 vol 248 cc1437-40

asked the Minister of Health in view of the recent increase in the total number of cases of spotted fever in the country, whether he is satisfied with the precautions being taken to prevent this disease from spreading?


I am advised that an increase in the number of cases of cerebro-spinal fever, or spotted fever, is usual in the early months of the year, especially when influenza is prevalent. There is every reason to believe that the local authorities and their medical officers of health are alive to the importance of urging such precautions as are practicable to prevent the spread of this disease.


Will these precautions be advertised so that the public may know what they are?


There are other questions on the Order Paper on this subject which I think will meet the hon. Gentleman's point.

60. Mr. DAY

asked the Minister of Health whether he can state the number-of cases of cerebro-spinal meningitis that have been reported to his Department during the previous two months; and whether he can give particulars of the districts in which these fresh outbreaks have occurred?


272 cases of this disease in civilians have been reported during the 11 weeks ended the 14th February. I will send my hon. Friend a list of the districts in which these cases occurred.


Can the right hon. Gentle-man say the number of soldiers confined to barracks from this cause?


That question should be put to the Secretary of State for War.

63. Mr. T. SMITH

asked the Minister of Health how many cases of cerebrospinal meningitis have been reported recently in the West Riding of Yorkshire; how many deaths have occurred; and whether he is satisfied that all is being done to cope with this outbreak?


79 cases of this disease have been reported in 20 sanitary districts in the West Riding of Yorkshire during the period from the 3rd January to the 14th February. The number of deaths cannot yet be stated. I am advised that such preventive measures as are practicable are being taken in the districts concerned.


Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that his Department is co-operating with the medical officers of health in these localities?


Most certainly.


Thank you.

64. Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

asked the Minister of Health what action he is taking in regard to recent outbreaks of cerebro-spinal meningitis?


The action taken by my Department includes the close observation of reported cases of this disease, and the giving of advice, on request, to local authorities and medical officers of health on the isolation of patients and any practicable preventive measures. If necessary, visits are paid by medical officers of the Department to the districts affected. The type of the prevalent organism is studied in the laboratory by the pathologists of the Department, who work in co-operation with the pathologists of the Army, Navy and Air Force. I have under consideration the question of publishing a general statement relating to the occurrence of this disease.

Lieut. - Colonel HENEAGE

With regard to preventive measures, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether much progress has been made?


Do I gather that the statement will include a report from the Medical Research Council on the relationship of this disease to influenza?


What I am concerned about is the present position. We shall consult them, but it will not be their statement; it will be mine.

65. Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

asked the Minister of Health if he is causing investigations to be made as to whether recent outbreaks of cerebro-spinal meningitis are due to overcrowding?


I am advised that it is well established that overcrowding of persons in barracks, schools and other residential institutions favours the spread of meningococcus infection. The existence of overcrowding in such circumstances would be investigated in any district affected, but I am informed that no notable example of such overcrowding has been discovered during the present prevalence of this disease.