HC Deb 27 June 1966 vol 730 cc1225-6
47. Mr. George Craddock

asked the Minister of Health, in view of smallpox outbreaks in various parts of the country, what special instructions have been issued in his Department to allay public concern; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. K. Robinson

As indicated in Answers to Questions by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) on 3rd May and my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) on 22nd June, the recent illnesses in the Midlands and. Pontypool were mild.

A revised and up-to-date memorandum, on the Control or Outbreaks of Smallpox was sent to medical officers of health in England and Wales in September, 1964. The medical staff of my Department and the Welsh Board of Health have been in close touch with the medical officers of health of the areas affected, and my Chief Medical Officer has been communicating the latest information to all medical officers of health.

Mr. Craddock

I thank my right hon. Friend for his Answer. Does not he think that greater emphasis on vaccination would help in this matter?

Mr. Robinson

Of course, emphasis on vaccination as a general policy is helpful. But we did not consider that in either of these instances there was a case for a mass local vaccination programme.

Mr. Braine

In order that the House and country can get this matter into some sort of perspective, would the right hon. Gentleman confirm that most, if not all, of these cases were variola minor, which is quite different from variola major, and that there is no reason to be alarmed provided that adequate precautions are taken by medical offices of health?

Mr. Robinson

That is the case, and I am glad to have this opportunity of confirming it. The Midlands outbreak consisted of 45 cases, of whom 29 were treated in hospital and 16 diagnosed in retrospect after recovery. It is three weeks since the last Midlands case was admitted to hospital.