Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley

Dr Michael Winstanley (Cheadle)

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement about the twelve cases of smallpox now notified and the action to be taken by members of the public resident in or visiting the areas affected.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson

Mr Kenneth Robinson (St Pancras North)

The disease confirmed is variola minor, a mild form of smallpox. In Witton Smallpox Hospital there are one case of variola minor confirmed by virus isolation and four cases diagnosed as variola minor on clinical grounds. Inquiries made suggest that there have been eight other presumed cases. The medical officers of health in the districts concerned—Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent County Boroughs—have offered vaccination to all known contacts and have them under surveillance. Residents in the areas should act on any advice given by their doctors or medical officers of health. Those who have good reason to visit the districts concerned need not refrain from doing so.

Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley

Dr Michael Winstanley (Cheadle)

Further to that Answer, does the Minister agree that the widespread use of the emotive term "smallpox" in connection with this outbreak is causing alarm? Would he further agree that this alarm could best be allayed by specific information about what should or should not be done? Will he, therefore, issue a statement to the Press?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson

Mr Kenneth Robinson (St Pancras North)

I am advised that a general programme of vaccination in the Midlands or elsewhere is not at present indicated. This point was mentioned in a letter sent yesterday by my Chief Medical Officer to all medical officers of health giving them the latest information about this outbreak.