Sunday 24 February 2013

The introduction of the Cholera Morbus

Twenty thousand copies of this guidance on dealing with cholera were printed for the City of London in November 1831. The Chairman of the City's Board of Health was Charles Pearson, who would later campaign for the establishment of an underground railway (though dying six months before that dream was realised).

The City of London Board of Health, anxious to prevent the introduction of the Cholera Morbus into this city, and to arrest its progress, should it unfortunately make its appearnce, feel it is their duty to direct the attention of their fellow citizens to the following precautions and observations, and earnestly to recommend that every householder should make them known among the members of his famiy and use his influence towards carrying them stricrly into effect.

House – To guard against accumulations of refuse matter in drains, cess-pools, dust-bins, and dirt-heaps, and to purify such receptacles by solution of chloride of lime, to be procured on application at the medical stations of each ward.

To maintain in a cleanly and wholesome condition all reservoirs, cisterns, and sinks, and to allow impurities, where practicable, to be carried away by running water.

To keep inhabited apartments clean by frequently washing and very carefully drying the floors, and to ventilate them thoroughly as well by fires and a free access of fresh air.

To have the windows, especially of bed rooms, put in good repair, so that the occupants may not be exposed during sleep to currents of night air.

To change bed linen and furniture frequently, and to clear out those spaces in inhabited rooms which are concealed by beds and other furniture, and which are so often made the depositories of filth and rubbish.

Where persons live in crowded apartments, which shoujld be avoided as far as may be practicable, additional vigilance should be used to preserve a free ventilation; and where offensive exhalations arise, they should be destroyed by the solution of chloride of lime.

Person – To maintain personal cleanliness by frequent washing and change of clothing, and, if available, by occasional warm bathing.

To guard against sudden changes of temperature by wearing flannel next the skin more especially round the bowels, and to protect the feet and legs by woollen stockings.

To avoid excessive fatigue, profuse perspiration, and exposure to cold and wet, particularly at night and to change damp clothing without delay.

Dirt – To let the diet consist of plain meats, bread and well-boiled vegetables, rejecting as injurious all indigestible kinds of food such as salads, raw fruits, nuts, rich pastry, and in general such articles as each individual may have found by experience to create acidity, flatulence and indigestion.

Beverage – To abstain from undiluted ardent spirits, acid drinks and stale soups or broths, and be sparing in the use of sugar, especially if it give rise to sour fermentation in the stomach.

To maintain regular habits, using moderate exercise, keeping early hours, and taking nourishment at limited intervals, so that fatigue or exposure may never be encountered during an exhausted and empty state of the stomach.

Finally to preserve a cheerfulness of disposition, a freedom from abject fears, and a full reliance that such measures will be taken by the Government and the local authorities as are best calculated, with Divine assistance, to meet the exigencies of the occasion.

The Board of Haelth are aware that these precautions cannot be take in every case, but they feel convinced that the more closely they are followed the greater will be the probability of security; and though they may be thought to be of a general nature, they become more immediately important at a time when the community is threatened with the visitation of a malady which especially affects the stomach and bowels; which usually makes it attack during the night; which falls with the greatest severity on the poor, the ill-fed, and the unhealthy; and which rages most destructively in those districts of towns where the streets are narrow, and the population crowded, and where little attention has been paid to cleanliness and ventilation.

J.F.DE GRAVE, Medical Secretary
Guildhall Nov.6 1831

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