Saturday, July 21, 2018

Whooping Cough, Smallpox, Measles, Diphtheria, Typhoid Fever, July's Been Busy Month, 1918

“County Health Officer Does a Little of Everything,” from the State Board of Health Bulletin, as reprinted in The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C., July 18 1918. Of course they had no way of knowing, but the deadly Spanish flu would hit in the fall and before it was over a third of the world’s population had caught it and the death toll worldwide was 20 to 50 million people.

Has Many Calls in Connection With Work of Making People Healthier and Happier

“The above report does not include a thousand and one inquires and requests ranging from the moving of a dead cat from in front of someone’s house to the prevention of train whistles blowing as they pass through town at night disturbing the quietude, health and happiness of the slumberer.”

So comments Dr. W.A. McPhaul, county health officer of Robeson County, in submitting a report of the health work in that county for the six months ending June 30. Yet included in his report is the record of sufficient activities to have kept him a mighty busy man for the entire period.

Notable in the record of the half-year is work of the life extension unit which 870 grown people have made application, and 648 have been physically examined. In this work very careful physical examinations are given for the purpose of discovering any of the many minor defects that so often give rise to serious troubles when allowed to go without attention. The work is along the same line as that of the leading insurance companies of the country, and it has been estimated that it is the means of adding at least 10 years to the average life.

Hardly second in importance has been the educational work done by Dr. McPhaul during this period. In public schools he has held 49 meetings, with an attendance of 4,424, and 17 meetings in other places with an attendance of 1,658, making a total of 5,082 people reached in this summer. In addition he has written 1,881 letters, secured the publication of 98 newspaper articles and distributed over 12,000 pieces of health literature.

That the health work that has been so intensely conducted in Robeson County has been most beneficial is shown in the report of the quarantine unit, which disclose a very small number of contagious and infectious diseases, the following figures being given:

Whooping cough, 101
Measles, 51
Diphtheria, 15
Scarlet Fever, 0
Typhoid Fever, 15
Smallpox, 42
Infantile paralysis [polio], 0
Epidemic meningitis, 1

There were 53 schools visited, 9,440 examination cards received, 751 children examined and 23 treated for defects discovered.

In addition to these regular duties, Dr. McPhaul lists a number of visits to the county home, the jail and county convict camps, conferences with civic authorities, examinations for commitment to the insane asylum, lectures to midwives, sanitary ordinances secured from town governments, post-mortem examinations, and “the thousand and one” other things that a live health officer is called upon to do.

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