New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
The camp water supply came from the Nile. The water was sedimented, filtered, chlorinated, and then detasted, and was considered safe from all diseases except bilharzia, of which there were no reported cases in Maadi town. Water had been laid on throughout the camp at numerous water points for cookhouses, for washing, and for showers. Altogether, 20 gallons per head a day was available for camp use. On test the water at the camp was found at first to contain bacillus coli in considerable concentration, though at the Maadi supply point none was found. Various sources of contamination were gradually eliminated, such as the use of contaminated dip-sticks by natives in charge of the pumping plant and, later, seepage from the evaporating pans through faulty pipe junctions into the water pipes, some of which were found to run beneath the pans. Measures were taken to prevent the contamination, and the camp water points were put under constant check and supervision by the Hygiene Section. When unit water-tank trucks were issued some weeks after arrival, rechlorination was carried out. Tests then were satisfactory. (The standard method of sterilisation in the field was by clarification, superchlorination with water sterilising powder, and dechlorination with taste-remover tablets (two tablets per 100 gallons of water chlorinated). Owing to the presence of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in the Middle East, the minimum period required for sterilisation before the addition of the taste-remover tablets was half an hour but a period of several hours was preferred.)
As an added health precaution, in April the Hygiene Section emptied, cleaned, sterilised, and refilled the reservoirs at Maadi from which the camp supply was drawn. A guard was placed over the reservoirs. Further poor water tests led to covering of the reservoirs with concrete roofs.