Mexborough and Swinton Times March 29, 1919
Prevalence of Itch
30% of the People Infected
Doctor Castle suggestions
The monthly meeting of the Darfield Urban Council was held on Friday, Mr H Gammell presided. There were also present Mr R Rennison, TW Illsley, TH Foulstone, D Hammerton and W Harden, the Clerk, Mr W Robinson, and other officials.
It transpired from the minutes that at a special meeting of the Council held earlier in the month, a letter was read from Mr G Dickinson, resigning his position as councillor. It was resolved that the resignation be accepted
Doctor R.F.Castle (Medical Officer of Health) reported 12 deaths and 4 births. The number of, deaths was, up to the present, due to the prevailing epidemic. That day he had not been notified of any new cases of influenza or pneumonia, and he thought it could be said that the epidemic was dying out.
Mr Anderson: Do you intend the schools to be opened this on Monday?
Dr Castle: I don’t see why we should extend it, now that the worst is over. The cases we have had lately have principally been among adults.
Dr. Castle added that there was very great danger in these epidemics on account of inadequate housing, and he had had cases of confinement occurring in rooms where there was infectious disease. He had seen this occur twice lately in New Scarbro’, and the same sort of conditions prevailed in Darfield. During the last epidemic there were deaths due to this sort of thing
Mr. Foulstone said that at a recent meeting of the County Council the question was asked whether the local medical officers of health were doing anything by which this influenza epidemic could be eliminated, or at least prevented from becoming such a scourge in relation to child welfare. On account of the epidemic, thousands of school days had teen lost in the West Riding. Had there been any serious attempt by the medical practitioner- in charge off health of districts to prevent this?
Dr. Castle replied that when there was no epidemic, to a certain extent there was nothing to guard against. When there was an epidemic they could do nothing but save such people as they could. The saving of lines was the first thing they had to think of. The saving of schooldays was a comparative trifle compared with it. If they were doing well as regards mortality from influenza, they were doing as much as can be hoped for at present
The Need For Baths Dr. Castle’s Startling Statement.
The Medical Officer mentioned that a good many years ago he recommended that public baths should be erected in Darfield, and arrangements made by which the clothing could be disinfected. The Council had not, seen their way to carry out his suggestion.
At the present time the disease known as itch was very prevalent in Darfield, and the state of things was one that would go on for an indefinite period. It was not only a nuisance to the people who had it, but it was a danger to life. He had known men be kept away from the pit for a considerable length of time on account of the condition of their bodies. What he had formerly advocated to combat this was medicated baths and provision for the disinfection of clothing. It was a very difficult thing to deal with, and unless they had suitable provision they would not be able to make much of a job of it. The majority of the washing in the township was done in the “peggy” tub, which was inadequate to deal with clothing infected with this disease.
Mr. Foulstone: Do you .favour municipal wash-houses?
Dr. Castle: I was not dealing with that. What I do favour is disinfection of clothes, and this should be attached to the baths.
Questioned as to whether the baths themselves would not spread infection, the doctor replied that he did not think so. Public baths were now provided in all big towns and cities, and, so far as he knew, they were not places where diseases were spread.
The Chairman enquired whether the present number of cases of this disease, compared with the number in past years, warranted such a thing being done.
Dr. Castle replied that at the present time there would not be less than 30 per cent of the population of Darfield suffering from the itch.
Mr. Illsley: Is it a very serious matter.
Dr Castle: It is very serious.
The .Chairman mentioned that when this matter was previously brought forward by the doctor the Council at that time did not see the wisdom of doing this, unless the neighbouring townships joined hands with them. A matter of this kind wanted uniformity of action to be effective.
Mr. Insley moved, and it was agreed, that the doctor be invited to attend the next meeting of the Sanitary Committee, so that the whole matter could be dealt with in detail.
A Frank Apology.
Mr. Randerson said that some remarks which he passed at the last meeting with reference to the rents of certain houses belonging to Mr. Hammerton had been taken exception to by that gentleman, and he now wished to publicly withdraw those remarks.
Mr. Hammerton : I quite accept the acknowledgement, and there will be no more about it.