[Page] 8

and ultimately died of consumption. In succession, three
of the same family suffered from the typhoid fever, and after
recovering from that disease, also died of consumption. In
Innellan, Tighnabruaich, and Innishail, typhoid fever broke
out in houses, the drainage of which was found defective. No
other cause of infection was known.

Diphtheria broke out twice in a house in Kilberry. The
drainage was found defective, Unless in this case, I am not
aware that diphtheria was traced in any part of the
County during the year to infection from a previous case of
the disease. Some cases occurred in houses which were in
an insanitary condition. In others nothing was found to
account for the disease.

An outbreak of typhus fever occurred in Kilfinichen in
the early part of the year. The disease was evidently in the
locality since the autumn of the previous year. The source
of infection could not with certainty be traced. It spread
from the township in which it was first detected to other
parts of the parish. This is a disease which generally affects
the over-crowded poor. It is difficult to eradicate when the
infection gets a footing in such a place as Mull where many
of the people are poor and living in small badly ventilated and
otherwise insanitary houses.

Want of proper disinfection was probably the cause of
some outbreaks. A case of scarlet fever occurred in one
parish in a house where the disease occurred in the previous
year. No other source was discovered. In another parish a
case of typhoid fever occurred during the demolition of an
old insanitary dwelling. The Medical Officer is of opinion
that the infection was traced to this source. In my report in
May last, I drew attention to another house where typhoid
fever broke out repeatedly for years. This was probably
owing to want of proper disinfection.

In many parts of the County there appears to be a morbid
dread of infectious disease. When a fever breaks out liable
to attack adults, the fear sometimes develops into a panic.
This increases the hardship to infected householders, as they
may be shunned for weeks or months by their neighbours.
On the other hand, the spread of infection is sometimes en-
couraged in the belief that if the disease is willingly taken
or caught from an otherwise healthy subject, it is not so likely
to be severe. This was the case with an epidemic of whoop-
ing cough in one part of the County during last spring. The
local Sanitary Inspector wrote me that he considered it use-
less to try to check the spread of the disease, as parents
carried their children to catch the infection.The epidemic,
however, contrary to their expectation was severe, and
several cases proved fatal.

[Page] 9

I regret that through want of proper information being
supplied to me in a systematic manner, want of clerical
assistance, and owing to my numerous engagements in all
parts of the County, I have not been able to give such a full
statement of the causes, origin and distribution of disease
as I would wish, nor to compile statistics in such a way as to
shew the death rate, and particulars of diseases in sub-
divisions of the Districts. At the same time, from the
information I have been able to collect as to the prevalence
of infectious diseases, as well as diseases indicative of insanit-
ary conditions such as diarrhœa, consumption, erysipelas,
typhoid fever, diphtheria, and sore throat, in various parts of
the County, from the high rate of mortality in Western
Ardnamurchan, and other localities; from the appearance
of typhus fever, (a disease of poverty and dirt) in
the parish of Kilfinichen; and lastly from what I know from
personal knowledge of the conditions of life in the County, I
am convinced that the want of provision for the isolation of
infectious diseases, and the insanitary condition of the houses
of the labouring classes, lie at the root of the ill-health of a
large portion of the population. Defects in dwelling-
houses, such as want of proper ventilation and drainage,
accumulations of filth in close proximity polluting air, water,
and soil; the housing of cattle, pigs, and fowls along with
human beings, come under various statutes, and can be re-
moved by enforcing the law. Other conditions, however,
such as want of cleanliness, unhealthy habits, thriftlessness,
ignorance of good cooking, and of the most rudimentary laws
of health and disease do not come under any statute, and can
only be removed by the gradual diffusion of knowledge, and
by the example and co-operation of all persons able to give
advice in such matters. Co-operation and encouragement on
the part of the educated classes might do a great deal in
raising the sanitary standard of the poorer classes in the
County. This would enhance their well-being, improve their
health, stimulate their energy, diminish pauperism, and en-
large their mental and moral capabilities. Such knowledge
might be imparted by the establishment of popular sanitary
societies in parishes and villages; by the dissemination of
leaflets, tracts, and booklets giving information on the sub-
ject in plain language, by district visitors who would point
out defects in house-keeping, and by giving lectures on sub-
jects relating to health in different centres. If I myself were
relieved from some clerical work which could be done cheaply
and quite as well otherwise, I might be able to give more
time to the visitation of the various Districts, give an
occasional lecture on these subjects in central localities, and
thus give a stimulus and direction to such organisation as I
have in view. As matters, are however, my time is more than
fully occupied otherwise

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