Infectious Diseases (Milk Supply).

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Health. – in the House of Commons on 28th March 1935.

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Lieut.-Colonel Sir ARNOLD WILSON:

25.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will draw the attention of medical officers of health to the statement in the report of the cattle diseases committee that the available evidence as to the importance of milk in the spread of infectious disease is not conclusive, and that the number of cases of scarlet fever traced to milk in the last 20 years is only 2,500 to 3,000 out of some 2,000,000 cases?

Photo of Mr Edward Young Mr Edward Young , Sevenoaks

No, Sir. Even if it were established that only 2,500 to 3,000 cases of scarlet fever in the last 20 years were attributable to milk, I should still consider it important that milk should be pasteurised in order to prevent such cases in the future. But, in fact, the Committee on Cattle Diseases considered that infection through milk may be more extensive than appears at first sight, the reason being that it is only where a large number of cases occur that the milk supply is likely to be suspected. Also, as my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, scarlet fever is not the only milk-borne disease which can be prevented by pasteurisation.

Sir FRANCIS FREMANTL:

Do not the actual figures prove the value of the great attention which medical officers have given to milk during the past 20 years?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

26.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will draw the attention of medical officers of health to the statement, at page 28 of the report of the Cattle Diseases Committee, that the most serious outbreak of disease brought to their notice, involving over 500 deaths, was traced to pasteurised milk infected by a human carrier?

Photo of Mr Edward Young Mr Edward Young , Sevenoaks

The outbreak in question occurred in Canada, and I understand that, while it was not found possible to determine exactly how the milk became infected, the weight of evidence was to the effect that the infection was introduced before the milk reached the pasteurising depot, and that much of the milk was distributed without having been submitted to the pasteurising process. I see no reason to call the special attention of medical officers of health to the matter.