Medical Officer of Health reports, 1891 - A Preface

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HH62/1/PREFAC/3 CONTENTS. -- Page. REPORT OF ABERDEEN DISTRICT, -- 1 REPORT OF ELLON DISTRICT, -- 13 REPORT OF ALFORD DISTRICT, -- 27 REPORT OF DEER DISTRICT, -- 35 REPORT OF GARIOCH DISTRICT, -- 43 REPORT OF DEESIDE DISTRICT, -- 51 REPORT OF TURRIFF DISTRICT, -- 59 REPORT OF HUNTLY DISTRICT, -- 65 INDEX OF SUBJECTS. STATISTICS, -- Appendix (Tables I. and II.) and Reports. CONDITION OF VILLAGES, -- Pages 4, 5, 17, 18, 19, 20, 30, 38, 45, 46, 53, 61, 66. HOUSING OF THE WORKING CLASSES, -- Pages vii., 6, 7, 20, 21, 44, 53, 54, 55, 56. SLEEPING APARTMENTS OF FARM SERVANTS, -- Pages 5, 6, 22, 55. NOTIFICATION ACT, -- Pages vi., 7, 31, 38, 48, 61, 62. HOSPITAL ACCOMMODATION, -- Pages vi., 7, 23, 31, 39, 7, 61, 67. ZYMOTIC DISEASE— Scarlet Fever, -- Pages 8, 23, 33, &c., &c. Diphtheria, -- Pages 9, 14, 15, 53, 21, 33, 48, 67. Enteric or Typhoid Fever, -- Pages 10, 21, 22, 32, 33, 39, 40, 62, 63. Erysipelas, -- Page 41. Whooping Cough, -- Pages 9-10, 56. Measles, -- Pages 9, 53, 56. OFFENSIVE TRADES AND BAKEHOUSES, -- Pages 9, 24, 32, 41, 46, 53, 69. SANITARY ORGANISATIONS, -- Pages vi., 8, 23.
HH62/1/PREFAC/5 ERRATUM. An error, due to incorrect returns of the population of the Health Districts of Kintore and Inverurie, has been pointed out. The correc- tion would give a total death-rate for the whole district of 13.945, Instead of 14.318 - a difference of .373. To the Public Health Committee OF THE ABERDEEN COUNTY COUNCIL MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN, In accordance with the Regulations for Medical Officers of Health laid down by the Board of Supervision in virtue of the powers conferred upon them the local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, I have prepared Reports for the eight districts of Aberdeenshire, for which I am Medical Officer ; and, in accordance with their further in- structions, I have sent to the Council copies of these Reports. The Bye-laws recommended by the board of Supervision for defining the duties of Medical Officers of Counties, and which have been adopted by the Council, further impose upon me the duty of preparing an Annual County Report. In view of the short time at my disposal during last year - a period too short to admit of the preparation of materials for such a Report on the County as I should wish to lay before you - I requested from the Board of Supervision exemption from a County Report 1891. I think, however, that it may be well that I should. As Medical Officer of Health for the County, present to the Public Health Committee a concise statement as to the Carrying out of the Public Health Acts in the various districts. It seems to me that the District Committees, as Local Authorities, have shown themselves fully alive to the importance of using the powers entrusted to them by law for safe-guarding health of the people, and I think the
HH62/1/PREFAC/7 [page] vi. proceedings of some of our Local Authorities will compare not unfavourably with those of any others in Scotland I shall pass rapidly in review the points that I consider of importance to deal with. I shall touch, first, upon the sanitary organisation that has been established in the County. This is two-fold - first. Medical Officers, and secondly, Sanitary Inspectors. With regard to the Medical Offieers, I am very pleased to be able to state, as the result of eight months' experience, that, in my opinion, the retention, meanwhile, of the Medical Officers has proved an exceedingly wise step. I have re- ceived very great assistance from many of them, and some of the Inspectors bear willing testimony to the help they have been to them in their work. I have been enabled to avail myself of the experience and knowledge they possess of their special districts, and they have rendered willing and valuable assistance whenever they have been called upon. With regard to the Sanitary Inspectors, a variety of arrangements obtains in the County. In one respect this is an advantage, as it has afforded an excellent opportunity of observing and judging between different methods. Passing from this, I shall consider the equipment that each Sanitary District should possess to enable it to deal efficiently with outbreaks of infectious disease. These consist of (1) some means of isolation for first cases, whereby epidemics are often checked; (2) the notification of infectious diseases, so that all cases are notified without delay to the Sanitary Authority, and measures can accordingly be taken to check the spread of the disease; (3) a disinfecting chamber, where bedding and clothes can be disinfected by dry or moist heat. I may state that the question of hospital provision is receiving careful consideration from several of the Local Authorities. The experience of the Aberdeen and Ellon Districts, where such means are already provided, shows the benefits that result from hospital isolation. In illustration of this, I would call attention to the account in my Report on the Aberdeen District of the outbreak of scarlet fever in Newhills during last winter. The Notification Act us undoubtedly a measure of the greatest importance. The full benefits of the Act are felt most where means of hospital isolation are at the command of the Local Authority. Even where this is not present, the more stringent isolation generally secured, the thorough disinfection of the house, bedding, and clothes by the Sanitary Inspector, and in many cases the discovery and [page] vii removal of insanitary conditions that produced the disease, render the adoption of the Act strongly advisable in every district. With regard to the third requirement, viz., means of disinfection, the experience of some of the sanitary districts in England, as given by Dr. Thorne Thorne, in his Report to the Local Government Board of England, is exceedingly instructive, and shows, clearly the value of such provision - a conclusion quite in keeping with all our most recent knowledge regarding the permanence of the infective virus viz., the micro-organisms which are the cause of most, if not all, the infectious diseases. The next matter I shall touch upon is one of very grave importance. The housing of the working classes in the County is not in a condition that any one can describe as satisfactory. The chief fault lies in the damp condition of walls and floors. The condition of some of these houses in this respect, especially in winter, is exceedingly bad. The effect of such a condition on health requires no explanation and no comment. I have embodied in several of my Reports the opinions of some of our experienced Medical Officers in re- gard to these houses, and I cannot employ more emphatic language concerning them than they have used. Much will require to be done in this direction, and I hope that, within a few years, we will see a very great improvement in the condition of the houses of the working classes, and not least in the cottar-houses provided for the married farm-servants, and the sleeping apartments for the unmarried men. In regard to the condition of the villages, much is being done to improve the drainage and the water supply. This is a matter of very great importance. It is universal ex- perience that the introduction of good sewerage and a pure water supply into town or village is followed by a general diminution of disease and lowering of the death-rate. Ashpits and privy middens are presenting sanitary problems of great difficulty everywhere in Scotland. The power for Local Authorities to scavenge villages, in terms of the petition presented by the Council to the Secretary for Scotland, together with the introduction of the system of slop-water closets, a system which has met with much suc- cess in England, may enable the Sanitary Authorities to deal satisfactorily with what is most undoubtedly a fruitful cause of disease, and always forms a menace to the general health of a community. I propose to have carried out in all the districts a uniform and systematic system of inspection of all houses used for
HH62/1/PREFAC/9 [page] viii human habitation, so that it may be possible to present to the Council, from time to time, a partial, and ultimately a complete, record of the County. Such a survey can be carried out by merely systematising the work of the Inspec- tors, and it would be of great value. It does not imply that everything is to be made perfect at once, but merely renders us cognisant of the conditions throughout the County. I have the honour to be, MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN, Your obedient Servant, JAMES P. WATT, Medical Officer of Health for Aberdeenshire. ABERDEEN, 8th April, 1892. Aberdeen County Council. REPORT ON THE Aberdeen District of the County of Aberdeen. Prepared in accordance with the Regulations of the Board of Supervision, under the Local Government (Scot- land) Act, 1889. To The District Committee, ABERDEEN DISTRICT, COUNTY OF ABERDEEN. GENTLEMEN, I beg to submit the following Reports on the district, prepared in accordance with the Regulations issued by the Board of Supervision. The Aberdeen District is a district which, from a health point of view derives special importance from its vicinity to the City of Aberdeen. The district itself is an extensive and populous one. Like the rest of the County it is almost entirely agricultural; but along the Don valley there are several very large works for the manufacture of paper and one for manufacture of cloth. Accordingly, in the parish of Newhills we have a considerable factory population. In the Dee valley there are many suburban villas, while the villages of Cults and Culter are rapidly increasing in size. At Culter there is a large paper factory. The total population, which is larger than that of any other district in the County, with the exception of Deer,