HL Deb 24 April 1866 vol 182 c1975

said, that seeing the noble Duke the First Lord of the Admiralty in his place, he wished to put a Question to him arising out of the intelligence just received from India to the effect that Her Majesty's Ship Octavia, at Bombay, had 175 of her crew ill with small pox. He wished to know, What steps the Government took on board of Her Majesty's Ships for the purpose of guarding against the outbreak and spread of that disease?


said, it was correct that intelligence had been received that 175 men of the crew of the Octavia had suffered small pox. Previous to 1864, general instructions were issued requiring every medical officer in the navy to take proper steps to prevent the outbreak of this disorder as far as possible; or if it should break out, to check its further progress. But in April, 1864, the Government issued a circular in which it was provided that in future no person should be entered for the service of the Royal Navy unless he had either been vaccinated or was willing to submit to that operation. It was also directed, that every man or boy in the service who had not had small pox, or had not been vaccinated, should be sent to hospital to have the operation performed, and that he should be vaccinated on board ship at the earliest opportunity. He believed that the outbreak had arisen in this particular ship from some Kroomen having been taken on board; but from the accounts which had been received, he was happy to find that most of the cases had been of a very mild character, owing probably to the fact that the men had been previously vaccinated.