|19th March, 1915, transcribed by Gill Hollis
How to Fight Consumption
Important Hints by The Medical Officer of Health
In his annual report of the Rushden Urban Council, Dr. Baker, Medical Officer of Health, deals with consumption in the following terms:-
IMPORTANT LEAFLET REGARDING PULMONARY TUBERCULOSIS OR CONSUMPTION
These notes are not intended solely for those who are affected with Consumption, although they are of the utmost importance to patients. Every human being, of whatever age or class, however strong or healthy, may become liable to contract tuberculosis, and yet, with care, no one need have it, not even the nearest relatives of consumptive persons.
It has been clearly shown that the prevalence of tuberculosis can be subdued by the adoption of proved safeguards, and the Sanitary Authority are desirous of doing their part to secure for everyone the benefit of these safeguards.
If you are not a patient you can do much service by reading the “General Information” given overleaf, and by conducting yourself and your household in accordance with the rules laid down there. Your help is needed in the work of stamping out the disease.
If you are unfortunately affected or threatened with the disease you can do still more effective service for yourself and for others by loyally following the “Advice to Consumptives” given on page 3. The Government have ordered that every case of Pulmonary Tuberculosis shall be notified to the Medical Officer of Health, but the object is simply to enlist the patient’s services in the fight against Tuberculosis and to offer him or her every possible assistance. The notification is regarded as confidential and will not be used in any way to the detriment of the patient.
H. STAINER BAKER,
Medical Officer of Health.
Consumption is entirely due to a germ, and it spreads by infection.
It is not inherited, and although some people seem to inherit a susceptible constitution, the disease can be avoided.
A strong and healthy constitution may become susceptible to consumption by unhealthy conditions or habits of life which render one less able to resist infection.
A person does not take the disease by mere contact with a consumptive; therefore there is no need to avoid a person who is supposed to be consumptive. If a patient follows the “Advice” given on the next page he will cease to be a danger to himself and his associates.
Probably everyone takes in germs of consumption at one time or another, because these germs are found in the dust of places where there is no protection against spitting and coughing; but healthy persons who observe the following conditions need not fear:-
(1) See that your rooms are clean, airy, and well lighted; thoroughly and continually ventilated day and night. Observe this at work as well as at home. Fresh air is the great preventive agent, therefore spend as much of your leisure as possible out of doors.
(2) Let your food be good and sufficient; avoid indulgence in alcoholic liquors and debilitating habits; observe regular hours for good and rest.
(3) Keep your body clean and warmly clad; never neglect an ordinary “cold” and never remain in wet clothes or boots.
(4) Remember that infection may lurk in the dust of houses, work-places, etc.; therefore insist on regular and thorough cleansing without commotion, e.g., moist sweeping and damp dusting.
(5) Do not sleep in the same room as a consumptive patient if avoidable, and never in the patient’s bed.
The great points for those who would avoid the disease are Fresh out-door air, good food, well ventilated and clean rooms, regular habits, suitable work, exercise and rest.
ADVICE TO CONSUMPTIVES
Early cases of consumption can be cured, and other cases can be benefited by careful and continuous practice of the precautions described in this leaflet, supplemented by proper medical advice.
The germs of consumption are coughed up and spat out by patients, and, if not destroyed, these germs are capable, not only of setting up the disease in other persons, but of re-infecting the patient. Hence it is imperative in everyone’s interest that all patients should observe great care, as follows:-
Never cough, except into a handkerchief, paper napkin, or rag, which can be treated as described later.
Never spit, except into a vessel specially provided for the purpose or into a rag which is to be burnt. Spitting vessels must contain disinfectant and must be frequently cleansed by boiling, the contents being first burned, or put down a W.C., or buried in earth. (They must not be put down a sink.)
Never swallow the phlegm, as that merely carries the infection into other channels with consequent evil results.
Never remain in overcrowded ill-ventilated rooms, day or night. Keep the body warm without shutting out fresh air.
Never unduly tax the strength by overwork, unsuitable exercise, long hours or excesses of any kind.
A consumptive person should sleep alone, and with the windows constantly open; should not kiss or be kissed on the lips; should have his or her own towel, handkerchief, table utensils, etc. The handkerchiefs or rags, used by the patient when coughing or spitting, should not be placed loosely in the pocket where they may dry and scatter germs; but they should be carried in a separate linen bag or pocket which can be boiled along with the handkerchiefs.
In regard to personal treatment, diet, clothing, exercise, etc., medical advice should be followed in all cases.
NOTES FOR THE HOUSEHOLDER
All living rooms, bedrooms and work rooms should be airy and well ventilated by means of open windows and fire places.
Abundance of daylight and fresh air is essential. Cleanliness is also very important and should be regularly and thoroughly attended to.
Moist sweeping and damp-dusting are advisable, to avoid raising dangerous dust. Floors should be scrubbed.
The Sanitary Authority will undertake the disinfection of any room vacated permanently or temporarily by a patient, or of any clothing or other materials needing disinfection.