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REPORT OF SECRETARY.
MARTINSBURG, W. VA., ?
Dec. 31st, 1888.
To Hon. E. Willis Wilson,
Governor of the State of West Virginia:
Sır: In compliance with the law establishing a State Board of Health on regulating the practice of medicine and surgery, I have the honor to present to you the annual report of the State Board for the year 1888:
Reports from local boards of health throughout the State show that with the exception of an epidemic of measles which prevailed in nearly every section of the State in the months of January, February, March and April, we have had an exceptionally healthy year. Scarlet fever, so much dreaded on account of the large mortality usually attending its prevalence, is accredited with but three deaths out of the 2,312 reported to the secretary. Typhoid fever, dyptheria, cerebro-spinal fever and the other symotic diseases, have prevailed to a limited extent, but in no instance amounting to an epidemic. With proper sanitary precautions rigid isolation of the diseases upon their first appearance, it is possible still further to restrict their prevalence. The indications of a small flame will arouse the people to prompt efforts to suppress that which might end in a great conflagration: Millions of money are invested in active experts and most approved implements for checking and suppressing disastrous fires. The epidemic in the same way starts from a small beginning, and unless properly met at the threshold by well-known and yet effectual sanitary measures and confined to one person or one family, it speedily grows to a mighty power, sweeping away whole families, and in some instances nearly whole communities. • An evidence of the advancement of our people in the knowledge of sanitation and its great advantages is their ready ac. quiescence in the rules and regulations of both State and local Boards of Health. We find the citizen as well as the municipality yielding a cheerful obedience to the health laws. Many who formerly were disposed to distrust its benefits are now among its most zealous advocates.
Since the last report to the executive the only change in the Board has been the appointment of Dr. B. H. Hoyt, of the Fourth Congressional District, to the place made vacant by the expiration of the term of Dr. T. A. Harris.
At the annual meeting in July last the Board was reorganized as required by law, Dr. W. P. Ewing, of Charleston, was elected President and Dr. N. D. Baker, of Martinsburg, was elected Secretary.
I desire especially to call your attention to the law relating to "Intinerant physicians and itinerant vendors of patent medicine," the proper enforcement of this statute throughout the State, would bring into the Treasury no small sum, nearly, if not quite as much as the appropriation for all the expenses of the State Board of Health. In the majority of instances through the neg. ligence or ignorance of those whose duty it is to make those collections; the parties, after plying their vocation for a season are allowed to escape, whereby the law is violated and the State defrauded of her rightful revenue. When the appropriation for the expenses of the State Board of Health is under consideration by the Legislature, it would seem nothing more than justice, that the Board should receive due credit for this source of revenue.
The number of local boards of health is at present greater than at any time in the previous history of the State. Local boards have been organized and are actively co-operating with the State Board of Health in every county in the State except Calhoun, Olay, Jefferson, Pendleton, Putnam, Summers and Wetzel. The county courts of these counties having failed to make nominations to the State Board, they are without legally qualified boards of health.
Reports from the health officers of the different counties, in response to a circular from the Secretary asking for reports upon the sanitary condition of the jails, school houses and county Asylums for the poor, show many of our jails to be in bad condition. Prisoners are huddled together in badly ventilated and poorly lighted cells, without any regard to health or comfort, the innocent and the guilty compelled to suffer alike. Few, if any of our jails are supplied with modern conveniences so essential to health.
County houses for the poor are nearly all reported in fair to good condition. The greatest trouble with our school houses appears to be the want of proper heating and ventilation. Building after building is being erected without the least regard to this most important matter. Silently and imperceptably the seeds of disease are sown upon the fertile soil of youth and innocence. A constant supply of pure, warm air should be furnished