Brucellosis

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1966.

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Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield 12:00 am, 1st August 1966

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to make brucellosis in humans notifiable; and what is the estimate of the number of people affected by this disease during the years 1964 and 1965.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

None, since notification would be of little practical value. Estimates of the number of persons affected by this disease in any particular year vary widely, but the Public Health Laboratory Service reported 124 cases in 1964 and 123 cases in 1965.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

The Parliamentary Secretary should bring himself up to date in this matter. Is he aware that in March of this year 28 persons were being treated for brucellosis by one doctor alone in Macclesfield? Is it not absurd that measles should be made notifiable but not this devastating disease, which can last for months and years? What does his Department intend to do about it?

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

Our advice is that it is very difficult to recognise this disease and that, therefore, national or local notification would not be of very great practical value. My right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Scotland are introducing a scheme for the eradication of brucellosis in animals, which is the real way of solving the problem.

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , North Angus and Mearns

In view of the scheme of eradication, surely it is only commonsense that the Ministry of Health should co-operate by trying to find out more about the incidence amongst human beings?

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

The matter is not quite as simple as the hon. Gentleman tries to make out. Of course, nothing is simple, but where we have the difficulty of diagnosis there is no possible value in having notification. We will co-operate to the fullest extent with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, but, beyond that, there is nothing much we can do to make a really valuable contribution to the solution of the problem.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Exeter

Whilst I agree with what my hon. Friends says, would it not be possible to get on with some scheme of total eradication? Because this disease is difficult to diagnose in the first instance, it is not always treated with the seriousness it deserves, and I have reason to believe that there are possibly many more cases than we know about.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

I would agree that it is necessary to get on with the scheme of eradication, and that is what the appropriate Department is doing. Any Questions on that issue must be referred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.