HC Deb 27 March 1984 vol 57 cc132-3
11. Mr. Colin Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people were treated for cattle-attributed leptospirosis in the National Health Service in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion was diagnosed by general practitioners.

Mr. John Patten

This information is not available centrally. In 1983, 40 cases of this disease were notified from England and Wales to the communicable disease surveillance centre.

Mr. Shepherd

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. Now that brucellosis has been cleared from the scene, does he agree that the extent of leptospirosis is becoming more apparent, especially to those who work in the dairy industry? Does he accept that the more general practitioners are aware of the disease the more they are recognising it and diagnosing it? What steps will he take to ensure that it is made more widely known among GPs? What is his assessment of the danger to public health?

Mr. Patten

The danger to public health is limited. There were 40 cases of leptospirosis last year, 12 cases the year before that and 10 the year before that. I am generally satisfied that GPs have an adequate knowledge of the risks of the disease, especially in dairying areas. It is very important for those engaged in health education to make it clear to those who work in the dairy industry that there is a need to wear adequate protective clothing and to take proper protective measures. We are grateful to the reference unit, which is in my hon. Friend's constituency in Hereford, for the work which it has undertaken.