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The Rushden Echo, 21st August, 1925, transcribed by Gill Hollis

The Public Health of Rushden

Annual Report Of The Medical Officer
A Low Death-Rate
Disquieting Number Of Deaths From Cancer
Overcrowding “Steadily Reduced”

  At the meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council on Wednesday evening the Medical Officer of Health (Dr. Muriset) presented his annual report, from which we take the following extracts.

General Statistics

Area – acres


Population (estimated)


Number of inhabited houses


Number of families or separate occupiers


Rateable value


Sum represented by a penny rate


  The number of inhabited houses shows an increase of 75, while the number of families or separate occupiers is only increased by 37.  This shows that the overcrowding which has been present in many homes is being steadily remedied.


  The total number of births is 198 for the year 1924, and of these 117 were males and 81 females, giving a birth-rate of 14.4.  It is regrettable to note that this figure is much below that of 1923 – namely, 17.97.


  The total number of deaths was 135, of which 71 were among males and 64 among females, the general death-rate being 9.81.  This figure exceeds slightly that for 1923 – viz., 131 deaths, giving a death-rate of 9.49.

  The infant mortality rate (the number of deaths among infants under one year per thousand infants born) for 1924 is 55.55.  This figure, although somewhat above that for last year – namely 49.3 – may be regarded as satisfactory, for it seemed hardly possible that last year’s sudden and remarkable reduction could be maintained.  The figure 55.55 is well below that for 1922 – namely, 76.92.  The local infant mortality rate compares will with that for England and Wales, which for 1924 was 75.

  It is satisfactory to note that, with the exception of influenza, the infectious fevers caused no deaths during the year.

  Tuberculosis was the cause of death in 15 instances, giving a mortality rate of 1.09, which figure continues the reduction shown during the previous two years.

  The pulmonary tuberculosis mortality rate for the year was .87, which is practically the same figure as that for the last year.

  There were 34 new cases notified during the year, and according to our local figures there were 13 deaths, as against the official figure of 15.

  Cancer caused 20 deaths, a somewhat disquieting number as compared with last year’s number – viz., 9 – the mortality rate being 1.45.

  Diseases of the heart and blood-vessels caused 24 deaths, a mortality rate of 1.75.  This figure remains much as that in the previous two years.

  Bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory disease was the cause of death in 19 cases, a mortality rate of 1.38, a slight increase on last year’s figure.

  Puerperal sepsis again caused one death out of two cases notified during the year.

  Taking the deaths as a whole, one is struck by the increase of death caused by cancer.  The increase in this insidious disease all over the country is causing considerable alarm, and much special investigation is being carried out in an attempt to discover the cause of this disease.  One can only hope that in the near future the research work will be crowned with success and that we may be provided with some real means of combating malignant disease.  It is unfortunate that the onset of the disease is so insidious and too often is far advanced before the sufferer presents himself for treatment.

Notifiable Diseases

  The number of cases of notifiable diseases during the year was 83, against 80 in 1923.  There has been a slight increase in the number of cases of scarlet fever, but this cannot be said to have obtained anything like epidemic proportions.  One case of enteric fever was notified.  This was caused by an organism of the para typhoid group, but in spite of careful investigation no source of infection could be discovered.

  Three cases of ensephalitis lethargica – or, as it is popularly known, sleepy sickness – were notified.  The one case of ophthalmia neonatorum which was notified during the year was treated at home.

  Supplementary notification of persons suffering from tuberculosis admitted and discharged from sanatoria: Admitted to sanatoria, 23, discharged from sanatoria, 22; total, 45.  Deaths occurred in four cases of tuberculosis of which no previous notification had been received.  Two of the cases occurring at the Sanatorium did not belong to the town.  The ratio of unnotified cases to the cases of death is roughly as one is to four.

Causes Of Sickness

  The town was again unfortunate in being visited by the epidemic of influenza in the spring and autumn, and this caused a very considerable amount of invalidity.  It was particularly noticeable that this year the recovery from influenza was comparatively slow, the disease being followed by a prolonged period of convalescence.

  Towards the end of the year mumps assumed epidemic proportions.  The disease, as usual, affected chiefly children of school age, but adults were by no means immune from the disease.  So serious was the epidemic that it was necessary to close one of the infants’ schools.

  Again I have to point out that, in conjunction with measles and chicken-pox, mumps is not regarded sufficiently seriously by parents, instructions as regards isolation being completely ignored, and children in an infectious condition being allowed to mix freely with their neighbours.

Nursing Arrangements, Etc.

  The Rushden Nursing Association, which is affiliated with the County Association, has retained the services of one, and during the latter part of the year two, fully trained district nurses, whose services are available for the nursing of sick persons in their own homes.  Much excellent work has been and is being done by them.  Both nurses are fully qualified midwives.

  At the end of the year there were five practising midwives in the town, four of whom are in possession of the certificate of the Central Midwives’ Board.

  The Rushden Smallpox Hospital is situated on Bedford-road, about a mile south of the town.  It is a corrugated-iron building, which is composed of two wards, each of which is capable of accommodating six beds, and the administrative offices.  The inadequacy of this hospital, should it ever be necessary to use it for the treatment of smallpox, has caused a considerable amount of disquietude in view of the continued prevalence of smallpox in the country.  The site, which abuts on the main road, is rather unsuitable for extensions which would be necessary if smallpox should arise in the town.  On the other hand, it would be difficult to find a more suitable site for a smallpox hospital anywhere in the neighbourhood of the town.

  The Cottage Hospital, which has accommodation for two persons, has been available throughout the year, but, as formerly, the majority of patients requiring hospital treatment are sent to the county hospitals at Northampton and Bedford.

  The Rushden House Sanatorium, an institution for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis which is under the administrative control of the County Council, has continued the most successful work commenced a few years ago.  At the end of the year some 65 beds were available for the treatment of county patients.  The immediate and after results of treatment in this institution have been most excellent and certainly above the average for institutions of this kind.

  There is no infectious disease isolation hospital in the district, but, as the number of cases of infectious disease in the town remains comparatively small, the establishment of such an institution does not appear to be urgent at the moment.

  The St. John Motor Ambulance Association continues to do good work, and many journeys for the conveyance of patients to hospital and elsewhere have been made by the motor-ambulance under the control of the association.


  House refuse is collected by three open carts.  During the year 3,834 loads were collected, of which 3,193 were loads of house refuse, etc., and 641 were loads of tins and bottles.  Of the nine slaughterhouses in the district, six are licensed and three are registered; 396 inspections were made to these premises, where everything was found to be in good order.  During the year 234 articles were disinfected and 82 destroyed, also 79 rooms were disinfected, after cases of infectious disease.


  Number of new houses erected during the year: Total, 75; as part of a municipal housing scheme, 18; assisted houses for private ownership, 55; ordinary, 2.

  Total number of dwelling-houses inspected for housing defects, 111.

  Number of dwelling-houses found to be in a state so dangerous or injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation, 4.

  Number of dwelling-houses found not to be in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation, 7.

  Number of defective dwelling-houses rendered fit in consequence of informal action by the local authority or their officers, 111.

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