HC Deb 18 November 1957 vol 578 cc29-30
52. Dr. Bennett

asked the Minister of Health what advice his Department gave to the Gosport Borough Council about the safety, or otherwise, of bathing close to sewer outfalls; and why his Department recommended the removal of notices stating that such bathing might be dangerous.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Derek Walker-Smith)

That it was for the medical officer of health to advise his authority on such matters. The question of removing the notices was entirely one for the local authority in the light of such advice.

Dr. Bennett

As I think my right hon. and learned Friend accepts as a fact the finding that the active poliomyelitis virus is excreted in the intestines for some months after the infection, whether it be a parylitic infection or not, may I ask him whether he will encourage health authorities not to be too sanguine about the hitherto undiscovered connection between bathing in dirty water of this kind and the incidence of poliomyelitis?

Mr. Walker-Smith

My hon. Friend will be aware that there is no definite evidence in this country of the transmission of poliomyelitis from this source. I shall, of course, bear in mind what he has been good enough to say.

Mrs. Slater

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that while there may not be any definite proof that there is this danger, there is at any rate a risk of it? Would it not be better for his Department to advise local authorities of this possibility in order that they may take every safeguard possible?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Yes. It is, of course, a question of what safeguards are practicable and sensible in this context. Investigations are going on by the Public Health Laboratory Service to try to see if there is any evidence of any significant risks attaching to sea bathing. However, it is obviously wise to avoid sea bathing anywhere near sewer outfalls.

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