09. Dr Dunne – The Enteric (Typhoid) Epidemic

July 1920

Mexborough & Swinton Times, July 1920

The Enteric (Typhoid) Epidemic

Dr A.R.Dunne, medical officer to the Doncaster Rural District Council, was next called and, before giving his evidence, he asked his Lordship’s ruling on his position in the case as a public official.

His Lordship: I don’t think you have any special privilege. It would be quite understood you are obeying the orders of the court.

Witness, in his examination in chief, said he attended on a subpoena. He was not satisfied with the conditions of Denaby Main.

Mr Mortimer: Do you think it would disturb your peace of mind?

Witness: A doctor may get accustomed to many things. But it is a serious state of affairs.

Mr Mortimer: In your view, doctor is it a fair description to say that it contains horrors?

Witness: I think it is rather a curious term. A scientific man would describe it as most unsatisfactory from a sanitary standpoint

Mr Mortimer: has the existence of these privvy middens affected the health of the people?

Witness: It has.

Mr Mortimer: Was there an epidemic of enteric fever in February 1911? – There was.

Mr Mortimer: In your view can you say to what the epidemic was due?

Witness: It was due to the infection and propagation from the privvy middens system. I dealt with the all thing in my report and dealt on the various factors that might have contributed. I certainly think the chief factor was the privvy midden system.

Mr Mortimer: Did you say in your report that the conversion of privvy middens should be at once proceeded with? – I did.

Mr Mortimer: The result has been that about 90 to 100 have been converted into water closets and 140 be made into waste water closets, making a total of 250? – Yes

Mr Mortimer: So far asyou can judge could they have proceeded with much greater speed than they have done?

Witness: The great objection was the water. You cannot convert unless you have an ample supply.

Dummy Teats and The Baby

Mr Mortimer: can you tell us the infant mortality rate of Denaby and new Conisbrough from 1914 to 1919?

Witness: In 1918 it was 222 per thousand births in Denaby and new Conisbrough and in 1919 the rate was 125. The rate of England and Wales was 89 per thousand.

Mr Mortimer: How does this infantile mortality rate for Denaby Main compare with this rate of the Doncaster rural district?

Witness: It is a very much bigger one. There has been a tendency in recent years for the “curve” to go down from the high years at the beginning of the century.

Mr Mortimer: It has been suggested that a high infantile mortality is due to the artificial feeding and the use of teats?

Witness: I have no experience but I am rather surprised at the figure. The women are at home and should be able to breastfeed

Cross-examined by Mr Waugh: Do you also agree that a big birthrate corresponds with an increase in the infantile mortality?

Witness: I don’t; it would require modification in places.

Mr Waugh: I understand you to say, in reply to his Lordship, that there are no other privvy middens except at Adwick le Street. Are not there some at Askern, Barmburgh, Edlington, Warmsworth, Tickhill and Wadsworth? – Yes

Witness explained this statement by saying that he was trying to think of a district which could compare with Denaby. The other places were small country villages; Edlington, for instance, was a small place with about 20 or 30 houses.

His Lordship: Places with no water supply? – Yes

Mr Waugh: Was there a water supply as would have enabled the whole of the houses to be installed with the water closet system?

Witness: I believe there was not.

Mr Waugh: Your special report was made in 1912? – Yes

Mr Waugh: The rural district Council, as a result of that, made an effort to obtain an additional water supply?

Witness: I cannot say

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