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To His Excellency the Governor and the Honorable Council:
The eighth annual report of the State Board of Health, herewith presented, is made to embrace the period between May 1, 1888, and October 31, 1889, inclusive. This change is made in order that the fiscal year of the Board may hereafter terminate October 31, that the report may continue as nearly as possible to the time of the meeting of the Legislature, which will hereafter convene in January. The large amount of work devolving upon the Board early in the year rendered it impossible to issue a report in season for the last Legislature ; hence the Board has deemed it best to bring the present report to the last of October, instead of making the change next year.
A report of this character must necessarily be very incomplete, so far as it represents the actual work undertaken and accomplished, for a detailed account of matters coming to the attention of the Board, the correspondence, etc., would constitute a large volume which would have little practical interest for the public, and would convey little, if any, instruction in sanitary matters; yet each act is of importance to the persons or communities directly interested, and also has its place in the general sanitary progress of the State.
During no other period of equal length in the listory of the Board has its work been so exacting, or the demands made upon it so great. Appeals have been received from the individual citizen, from the family, from town and municipal authorities, and from private corporations, all in the direction of sanitary improvement.
· The Board has also exercised a general supervision over the sanitary welfare of the State, and has suggested and brought about reforms tending to advance the public health interests of the locality in particular and the State at large. The Board has heartily co-operated with local health authorities, as well as with individuals, in their efforts to better the sanitary conditions of their respective localities. This great mass of work, which has almost constantly engaged the attention of the Board, will not be represented in this report. In a general way, an idea of the magnitude of the work may be obtained by a perusal of the annual reports.
We believe that New Hampshire, in sanitary matters, is keeping pace with the other States of the Union that have active boards of health, and we are decidedly in advance of the few States which have no such organization. No branch of the public service has made greater advancement in the past few years than sanitary science; and this progress is very largely national in its scope. The time has come when the people are no longer panicstricken at the mention of yellow fever or cholera, and this change of sentiment is wholly due to the knowledge that health authorities are competent and able to restrict and control those diseases which once raged in frightful epidemics. Health authorities of to-day fully understand the nature and character of most of the pestilential diseases; hence there is a public feeling of security that exerts an extended influence over every-day life, and even commercial and industrial enterprises. Our ports are now open to communication with all parts of the world, and the “ forty days' ” quarantine is a thing of the past. Even the great water highway of the South and the West — the Mississippi river — is open to commerce, under modern methods of sanitation, almost without restriction, even though vessels infected with yellow fever and cholera arrive at New Orleans. The appearance of a cholerastricken ship in New York harbor is of scarcely sufficient importance for newspaper comment, and does not in the least alarm the people, owing to their confidence in the sanitary supervision of the port. Certain it is that every hamlet in the State, as well as every city, may secure immunity from the ravages of contagious and infectious diseases if it will but avail itself of the protection offered by sanitary science. In many towns of our own State sanitary knowledge has been applied in the management of affairs with marked results from year to year, and we regret that this cannot be said of all. There are people so fixed in the ruts of habit and daily practice that it would seem that nothing short of an upheaval of nature could move them in the least. We are glad to say that only a small minority of our towns are under such management; and we have an unbounded faith that the rising generation, seeing the progress of other towns, will bestir themselves to wash out the sins of their fathers. Most New Hampshire towns are enterprising, and fully realize the importance of sanitation, and to this end have established local boards of health, constructed sewers, looked well after their water supplies and the condition of their schoolhouses, and have accomplished much for the good of their respective communities.
REPORT OF CONTAGIOUS AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES.
The Board requires monthly returns from the local boards ot health, of the prevalence of contagious and infectious diseases, particularly diphtheria and scarlet fever. These returns, as a rule, are quite promptly made from a majority of the towns. The system of notification now in practice in this and other States is of special value in the restriction of this class of diseases. The physician promptly notifies the local board of health upon the outbreak of either of these diseases, and the latter immediately takes such action as is necessary to prevent its spread.
Theoretically this is what a system of notification brings about; but practically it is not carried out in all of our towns. Whenever this method is enforced strictly in accordance with this intention, great practical results are accomplished, as has been observed in several towns in the State. So marked have been the effects in some places, that there can be no doubt of the efficiency of the method. If all the towns in the State would carry out this plan in accordance with instructions furnished them by the State Board, there would be a very marked diminution in the number of cases of contagious and infectious diseases. But the spirit of inaction which pervades some towns in the management of all their public affairs, is in no degree lost in the presence of scarlet fever or diphtheria, and hence these diseases are not infrequently disseminated, simply because no effort is made to check them.
Enough has been done in this State by the local boards of health to show that these diseases may be effectually restricted and stamped out by the action of competent local health authorities. This fact having been repeatedly demonstrated, we assert without qualification that every town in the State should have an efficient health officer or board of health. As it is, much effectual work is being done, much more than that accomplished in years past; so we are able to record a decided advancement in this direction.
DISEASES OF ANIMALS.
During the past year we have investigated several outbreaks of diseases among animals in different parts of the State. Numerous applications for investigation have been made to the Board. Many of these cases were of a character that did not demand any investigation on the part of the Board, as the facts presented did not warrant a further examination.
We have, however, received complaints of diseases among ani. mals of a very grave character, to which the attention of the State should be directed. Indeed, this matter was considered by the last Legislature, and a law enacted which, if faithfully, impartially, and scientifically enforced, may result in much good.
There has been no contagious or infectious disease among the cattle of the State during the year, of a character dangerous to man, except tuberculosis, and possibly a few cases of glanders. Tuberculosis has been found in several localities, and its prevalence is doubtless much greater than has been supposed. It is a disease that should be eradicated by the most aggressive measures that can be taken, not only for the protection of the farmers of the State, but for the health of all our citizens. The identity of tuberculosis in animals and man is well established, as well as the fact that it may be directly communicated from animals through tuberculous meat and milk to the human family. In another part of this report may be found a more extensive discussion of the subject.