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Typhoid Fever in Rushden

Most of these items are extracted from Council Meetings Reports or from Health Reports.

NB - Not every extract is gathered here so please read the longer reports.

The Rushden Echo, 19th August 1898, transcribed by Jim Hollis

The Health of Rushden
Two Cases of Fever

At the meeting of the Rushden Urban Council on Wednesday night Mr. Martin (sanitary inspector) reported a case of typhoid existing in High-street. One of the drains, he said, was foul, and a water closet had been blocked. This had been put right and the premises cleansed and disinfected. The patient, a young man, had been living at Desborough, and a few days ago Dr. Baker was called in. The doctor now stated that the patient was

Suffering From Typhoid Fever

The Chairman (Mr. J. Claridge): I suppose you are doing in this case what you did in the previous ones?

The Inspector: Yes, I have made every arrangement, as before.

Mr. Swindall: Is it a severe case or a slight one?

The Inspector: I do not think it is severe. Dr. Baker did not say it was.

Mr. Wilkins: What water are they using?

The Inspector: The town water. The drain was far from being clean, and the closet was blocked at the junction. It is astonishing what was pulled out.

The Chairman: You have had it cleaned out?

The Inspector: Yes.

In answer to Mr. Wilkins, the Inspector said that a towel was found down the drain. There were, he continued, three deep cellars in the premises where the fever existed, and it was quite possible that the

Sewer Gas

found a way into the cellars from the old drains there.

Mr. Denton said that the previous cases of typhoid were in West-street, not far from the house in question, and it was considered in those cases that the sewer gas might have got into the house there. He thought that attention should be directed to this matter and a proper inspection made of that particular district, and if any defects were found the Council ought to insist on things being put into a sanitary condition.

The Inspector thought it was possible that the patient in this case contracted the fever at Desborough.

Mr. Wilkins: Has this case come before the Medical Officer?

The Inspector: Before Dr. Owen went away he told me that if anything of a serious nature occurred in his absence I was to inform Dr. Crew, and I have done so.

Mr. Wilkins: Has Dr. Crew been over to see the premises?

The Inspector: I reported the matter to him yesterday and he said he would come over and see into it.

Mr. Wilkins said it would be the Medical Officer’s duty to ascertain, as far as possible,

Where The Disease Originated

The Chairman: When Dr. Owen went away there was nothing but measles.

The Inspector: They have pretty well disappeared. I have not heard much of them lately.

The case of a child living at the top end of Newton-road and suffering from scarlet fever was then reported by the Inspector, who added that there had been three cases up there altogether.

Mr. Wilkins: Who is attending this case?

The Inspector: Dr. Panter.

The Chairman: You have supplied disinfectants?

The Inspector: Yes.

The Chairman: You have done all that you could in this case?

The Inspector said he had. There had been a case just opposite, in Robert-street, but that was some time ago now.

Mr. Swindall: Seeing the number of cases of typhoid that arose from the case in West-street, would it not be

As Well to Isolate

this patient?

The Chairman: The Medical Officer is against the use of the infectious hospital for typhoid patients.

Mr. Miller: We have no power to isolate them, have we?

The Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason): We have power to take them if they will come but not to compel them.

Mr. Swindall said that if the majority of the Council favoured isolation the opinions of the Medical Officer should not stand in the way.

Mr. Spencer said he was strongly in favour of isolation in the case of typhoid.

Mr. Knight reminded the Council that it would be possible to take a case of typhoid into the infectious hospital and then small pox might break out. Under those circumstances they would be in a fix.

The subject then dropped.

Rushden Echo, Friday September 30th, 1898 transcribed Sue Manton

Two fresh cases - Cause of the Outbreak

It is satisfactory to note that there has been no great spread of typhoid fever in Rushden. At a meeting of the Urban council on Wednesday, Mr. George Denton asked if there were any fresh cases of typhoid.

The inspector said there had been two cases within the last week. In one of the cases it was admitted that the patient had drunk water from the well which was suspected of giving rise to the other cases. There had been no case of typhoid this year or last where the town water had been used solely.

Mr. Denton: It is satisfactory to have been able to locate the cause of the fever. The remedy now would appear to be very simple.

The inspector mentioned that the other cases were going on favourably.

The Rushden Echo, 30th September 1898, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Typhoid Fever in Rushden
Thirteen Cases - Wells To Be Closed

Several fresh cases of typhoid, we regret to state, have occurred in Rushden since our last issue, and there are now eleven patients suffering from the fever. Dr. Paget, the County Medical Officer for Health, visited Rushden on Monday and, in company with Dr. Owen, made a thorough inspection of the whole of the premises where the disease exists.

At a meeting of the Rushden Urban Council on Wednesday night the following report was presented by Dr. Owen, the medical officer of health:-

Gentlemen, since the two cases of typhoid fever reported at the last meeting eleven fresh cases have occurred. On September 6th I was called to see William and Charles Willmott, two boys living in West-street, and found them suffering from typhoid fever, and at the same time I was casually asked to look at Horace Willmott, who had just come into the house with his mother. I found that

He Had Typhoid Fever

and typical spots on his abdomen, so that he must have been ill for some time. He lived in Queen-street, but often came down to play with his cousins. On September 7th I was called in to see Kate Richardson, West-street. She also had the fever. Archibald Knight was reported to me on September 8th and on the 11th Ida Hudson, The Orchard, came under my care. She used to stay at the Richardsons during the daytime, and four fresh cases at Joseph Green’s have been reported to me this week. It will be seen that all these cases with the exception of three are situated near each other, but of the three, one – Ida Hudson – almost lived at the Richardsons’, and the others. Willmott and Green were constantly playing in Green’s yard. It is known that eight of the thirteen cases which have occurred had their

Water Supply

from a surface well, the pumps of which were situated against the back premises of the house occupied by Joseph Green, pork butcher. There is very little doubt that the children, Horace Willmott, Horace Green, and Ida Hudson, and probably Archibald Knight, respectively, while playing with the Willmotts in Green’s yard and the slaughterhouse, drank some of this well water. In the case of Hooper, the first case of typhoid, who lived next door to Green’s, it is possible, as stated in the last report, it might be attributed to the effluvia from the ventilating pipe in Green’s yard, which was connected with the sewer in West-street, for

This Sewer Was Infected

with typhoid excreta at the commencement of the year. On investigating the premises I found that within a few feet of the well there was a large gulley. This was full of fat and other meat debris. There were some pieces of meat, fat and bone on the bricks near the well. This I consider one source of the possible contamination of the well. There is also here three places where pigs are kept for slaughter. The slaughter-house is also near the well, and this was in a dirty and unsanitary condition. The walls were covered with blood, and the floor was made of porous bricks, which were very much worn, and must allow a great deal of leakage in the soil beneath. Lime washing and proper flushing had not been carried out. The gulley trap outside the slaughter-house was full of fat and debris. I ordered a notice to be placed upon the pump that

The Water Was Not To Be Used

for drinking purposes. The slaughter-house ought to have paving of York flagstones set in cement upon good concrete, instead of the present porous bricks. The walls should be cemented and frequently whitewashed. All these should be thoroughly cleaned by flushing after the slaughtering, and the drains kept well flushed. It is also necessary to provide for the more efficient ventilation of the West-street sewer. There is one case of scarlet fever to report in the Newton-road. There were previous cases near, whence probably the infection came. Measles is still prevalent, but on the decrease.”

Replying to the Chairman, Dr. Owen said that Dr. Paget agreed with him that the water was

The Primary Cause

of the outbreak.

Mr. Miller understood Mr. Green now had town water laid on.

Mr. Wilkins: Is it sufficient simply to put a notice on the well? Would it not be more satisfactory if the wells were closed permanently?

The Chairman: Yes, but we cannot do that without an order.

Mr. Mason: We can get the order if we satisfy the justices the water is absolutely bad.

Plans were produced by Mr. Madin showing the drainage pipes on the property of Mr. Hooper, Mr. Green, and Mr. Willmott, and he explained they were opening up the ground to

Trace The Pipes

but the work had not get been completed.

Mr. Miller asked what Mr. Hooper did with his stale fish.

The Chairman: I can’t say. There is a cesspit at the back of his premises which contains matter it ought not to have.

Mr. J. B. Martin’s report as inspector of nuisances contained a complaint about Mr. Hooper washing his fish and throwing the water down in the street.

The Chairman said that they

Complained Bitterly

about it on Saturday.

Mr. Wilkins said that they must not overlook the fact the doctor reflected seriously on the condition of the slaughter-house.

The Chairman said that anyone who visited the house would be of the same opinion as the doctor. If it was to be kept as a slaughter-house it wanted a little money spending on it and if this was not done, they ought to do away with it.

Replying to Mr. Wilkins, the Clerk said that if they obtained a conviction the magistrates would not impose the fine if the owners would put the place into order.

Dr. Owen: The first thing you ought to do is with regard to the water. I think

The Well Should Be Closed

altogether. The gullies were in a very bad state, with all this fatty matter. The slaughter-house ought to be cleaned within three hours of slaughter every day. Another defect is keeping pigs.

Mr. Wilkins thought they had no power to get the slaughter-house closed. The magistrates would require certain alterations done, and as long as they carried out their requirements nothing would be done. It was clearly their duty to require Mr. Green to put the slaughter-house in a proper condition.

Mr. Fountain: I believe

Mr. Green is Prepared

to do anything of that sort.

Mr. Cave thought Mr. Green would carry out the wishes of the Council.

The Chairman: It is Mrs. Willmott’s property.

The Chairman said the wells were undoubtedly the primary cause of the outbreak.

The Council’s Decision

It was decided that the clerk take the necessary steps to close the three wells – Mr. Samuel Knight’s, Mr. Green’s, and Mr. Compton’s. The Surveyor was instructed to report as to the necessary steps to have the slaughter-house put into sanitary condition. Mr. Hooper was to be notified to abate the nuisance regarding the fish water.

Rushden Echo, Friday October 7, 1898 transcribed Sue Manton

Typhoid Fever – there have been no further notification of cases during the last fortnight and it can now be said that the epidemic has abated. All the patients are progressing most satisfactorily towards recovery.

The Rushden Echo, 14th October 1898, transcribed by Jim Hollis

The Health of Rushden
Abatement of Typhoid

No fresh cases of typhoid have occurred in Rushden during the past week. At the meeting of the Urban Council on Wednesday the Medical Officer (Dr. Owen) reported as follows:-

“Since my last monthly report there are three fresh cases of typhoid fever. The first is Mrs. Brandon, at Richardson’s, West-street. This originated from the same source as the previous cases reported. The second case is that of Herbert Leach, of Washbrook-road, who is a painter by trade, and worked at Green’s, High-street, and he was in the habit of drinking the well water, thereby contracting the fever. The third case is that of Arthur Robinson, of Bedford-road. In this instance the probable cause was the

Contamination of The Well Water

nine yards away from which was a tub placed in the ground and the liquid contents of the piggeries ran into it. This tub was leaking and the contents had been overflowing, polluting the soil around. This must have found its way into the well, the water of which on examination I found bad, and had a notice placed on the pump to the effect.”

The Chairman (Mr. J. Claridge): Are the typhoid cases going on satisfactory?

Dr. Owen: Not very.

The Chairman: They are having water laid on, and the drainage is being done to the satisfaction of the surveyor?

The Surveyor: Yes, I understand so.

The Chairman: Did Leach drink the water at Green’s

Dr. Owen: Yes, very often. He was there during the hot weather.

The Chairman asked if the typhoid patients as a whole were going to be all right.

Dr. Owen: Three or four are not doing well.

The Chairman asked if

The Measles

had disappeared.

Dr. Owen: No.

Mr. Denton: Has the attention of the inspector been called to the children being sent to school when they are only just recovering from measles?

The Inspector said it was a difficult matter to get at that point. Cases of measles were not reported to them, so they did not know where they were, or else they could go and look after them. Wherever he knew of a case he always gave orders that the children were not to be sent to school for five or six weeks. They could not, however, find out all the cases.

Mr. Wilkins said that in some districts the medical officers made a practice of visiting the schools occasionally to see if there were children there who ought not to be.

The Chairman: Perhaps Dr. Owen will note that.

The Inspector said the schoolmasters had promised to be on the look-out in this direction.

It should be understood that the fresh cases referred to in Dr. Owen’s report occurred in the early part of the month. There have been no further cases for two or three weeks.

The Rushden Echo, 11th November 1898, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Typhoid Fever In Rushden
Another Case

Dr. Owen, Medical Officer of Health, presented the following report at a meeting of the Rushden Urban Council on Wednesday:-

“Another case of typhoid fever was reported to me on Nov. 7th. This case was that of Emma Fields, aged 16 years. She had lately been acting as nurse to the Richardson’s baby, where typhoid fever was; and no doubt she contracted the fever from

The Same Source

as the previous cases reported. The usual precautions are being taken against its spreading. There are still a few cases of measles.”

The Chairman (Mr. J. Claridge) said they were all very sorry to hear that another case of typhoid had occurred. They had hoped that the fever had run its course. Were the families drinking town water now?

Dr. Owen: Yes.

The Sanitary Inspector (Mr. J. B. Martin) said he was strongly under the impression that until there was

Better Isolation

in families they would hear of these cases from time to time. (Hear, hear.) He thought they had more fever last year than there would have been if better care had been taken by the families suffering.

The Chairman: The general health of the town is satisfactory?

Dr. Owen: Yes.

Mr. Spencer: How many cases of typhoid are there existing now?

Dr. Owen: Two, I should say.

The Rushden Echo, 2nd December

Fevers in Rushden
Fresh Cases
“Boil The Milk!”

On Wednesday at a meeting of the Rushden Urban Council the Medical Officer presented the following report:-

“There are two fresh cases of typhoid fever to report -- Mrs. Sherwood and Mrs. West, High-street South. These cases are of a mild character and the cause of their origin cannot be traced. In both cases they have the town water laid on and water closets substituted for the pail system. As typhoid fever is sometimes conveyed by milk it would be advisable for all people to take the precaution of boiling the milk before drinking it. There are three fresh cases of scarlet fever – two in Oswald-road and one in Queen-street. The usual precautions as to isolation are being taken up.”

The Chairman (Mr. John Claridge) said he was very sorry to hear that there were more cases of typhoid but happily they were of a mild character.

Mr. Paul Cave asked if the milk could be tested at all.

The Chairman said he hoped the people would take Dr. Owen’s advice and boil all milk before using it.

Mr. Wilkins said he was afraid people would not do this. They had been warned so repeatedly.

Mr. P. Cave: Some good might be done by testing the milk. We ought to be very careful to use every precaution.

Dr. Owen: we can’t test the milk they have already drunk! (Laughter.)

One gentleman suggested that perhaps they ought to test the water which was put into the milk. (Laughter.)

The report was adopted.

The Rushden Echo, 16th December 1898

Death From Typhoid — Another Fresh Case

With deep regret we have to announce the death of one of the patients suffering from typhoid fever, viz., Mr. Harry West, aged 38, of High-street South, Rushden, who passed away on Monday morning. The deceased, who was a widower, his wife having died about four years ago, leaves five children. The funeral took place on Tuesday, Mr. Harry Knight being the undertaker. Earlier in his life the deceased was a carpenter and was a very good craftsman, but latterly he has been engaged in riveting. A good deal of sympathy is being felt in Rushden for the orphans, who have been sent to different places.

Unfortunately we have to record the fact that typhoid symptoms have manifested themselves in another case – a little child named Grace Field, five years of age, living in West-street, Rushden, whose sister is suffering from the same disease at the present time. It appears that at the time the latter fell ill, Grace was

Sent To Higham Ferrers

to stay with a married sister, Mrs. Houghton, living near the walnut tree. The child went to school during her stay at Higham Ferrers, but, as she seemed somewhat dull and depressed, it was thought she was home-sick, so she was sent back to Rushden, and has since developed symptoms of typhoid. Happily the case is of a very mild type, the patient being well on the way to recovery.

It is reassuring to know that Mr. Martin, the sanitary inspector, is indefatigable in his efforts to ensure thorough disinfection and

The Most Perfect Precautions

against any further spread of the disease in Rushden, and he also communicated to Dr. Crew, the medical officer of health for Higham Ferrers, the fact that Grace Field had been attending the Higham School, so that any necessary steps might be taken to prevent the disease from spreading. On Wednesday morning Mr. Martin destroyed by fire the bedding used in one or two cases in Rushden.

The Rushden Echo, 6th October 1899, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Outbreak of Fever

The Medical Officer reported that two cases of typhoid fever had occurred in Pightles-terrace. He could only account for this by sewer gas getting into the living-room. This might occur through the absence of a constant water supply, the gas getting into the supply pipe from the siphon in the W.C., the cistern of which was only 7 feet from the tap for the supply of drinking-water. The water-closet was badly ventilated and the pipes passed under the living-room. There had also been several cases of scarlet-fever in which the usual precautions had been taken.

Mr. Wilkins said the doctor’s report seemed to suggest that w.c’s inside houses ought to be abolished.

Dr. Owen said there was no doubt it was the safest to have the w.c. at such a distance from the house that a current of air passed between the two.

The Surveyor contended that it was a mistake to think that sewer gas could enter a house in the way suggested by the Medical Officer.

The report was referred to the Sanitary Committee.

Several Scarlet Fever Cases

were reported on by the Sanitary Inspector who said he was afraid that occasionally a case occurred which was not known to anyone outside friends of the family, a doctor not being called in.

Rushden Echo, 12th September 1924, transcribed by Kay Collins

 26 Years ago – September 1898

Thirteen cases of typhoid fever occurred at Rushden, and the Urban Council ordered certain surface wells to be closed.

NB - Not every extract is gathered here so please read the longer reports.

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