Typhoid At Kew Asylum

A report by Dr Inglis (health officer), - concerning the outbreak of typhoid at Kew asylum, was submitted to the borough council at its meeting on Tuesday evening. It was shown that every precaution was being taken to prevent the spread of the disease from those known to be infected. Two tent hospitals are now in use - one at the Idiot asylum and the other at the main building. Trained nurses from outside the regular staff were employed to attend solely to the typhoid patients and suspected cases. Incinerators are in use, and no expense is being spared to combat the disease. At the Idiot asylum hospital tent there was only one case at present under treatment, and there was not a fresh case noted for in more than three weeks. The symptoms of several of the patients in the hospital tent at the main building seemed to correspond solely to influenza. The infected staff nurses belonged to various wards, and two of the other nurses also contracted typhoid. The asylum was still overcrowded, there being more than 20 beds made up on the floors each night. To the health officer's mind, the most likely cause to the continuance of the typhoid was the asylum rule or custom, which made the patients use the dormitories as eating rooms. In one mentally afflicted the first symptoms of typhoid would probably pass unnoticed, and without complaint, and the disease could reach the diarrhrea stage before being diagnosed. Having reached the diarrhea stage, and bed linen having to be changed in a general eating room, surely there cause enough for any extension of infection. All soiled sheets were being disinfected, but they were carried along the dormitory. Under such circumstances, typhoid having once made a start, it was difficult to say when it could be stopped. If all cases wore recognised in the initial stage, and isolated, the outbreak would probably soon cease, but in dealing with the insane, the initial stages must, in many instances, pass without coming under notice, and it would be scarcely possible to take the temperature of 1200 patients twice daily. From the many in which the typhoid cases wore occurring, one must conclude that the outbreak was not from a common source, such as the milk supply, &c., but was due from infection from patient to patient. His remarks in a former report about faulty underground drainage he could only repeat. The whole hospital should be connected with the underground sewerage scheme. Across the farm there were two gullies, along both of which sewerage flowed freely all day, and found its way mainly into the Yarra. The smell from these gullies was sewer-laden, and male patients worked daily in the in immediate vicinity. The open brick drains adjacent to the building were kept in a satisfactory state. The medical superintendent of the asylum having consulted the central board of health, were now, he understood, awaiting its report.

The mayor said that the result of the health officer's investigations showed that the comments made at last meeting relative to affairs at the asylum were fully justified. The report was a valuable one. No doubt the request of the central board of health for a copy of such reports would he completed with.

Cr Wishart said the authoritisa at the asylum were now doing their best to stamp out the disease, but were confronted with a great difficulty in tracing the origin of contagion.

Cr Argyle said the council had done its part so far as drainage its tie locality was concerned, but the state of the gullies the asylum grounds required immediate attention. The insanitary state of affairs was a menace to the health of residents within the metropolitan area, as large numbers of people strolled alonlg the river banks int the vicinity of the asylum, especially on Saturdays anld Sundays. He moved that the report be received, and a copy be forwarded to the central board of health.

Cr Church seconded.

Cr McCrea said ha was impressed by the painstaking manner int which the borough health officer had carried out his duties in regard to the outbreak, and suggested thlt a letter of thanks be forwarded to Dr. Inglis.

The suggestion was embodied in Cr Argyle's resolution, which was carried.

Box Hill Reporter, Friday 11 October 1907, p2