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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Diseases in Tunisia

Diseases in Tunisia

The diseases reported to be prevalent in Tunisia were the same as those noted in Tripoli, with the addition particularly of malaria, and also of bilharzia and to a lesser extent plague, sandfly and dengue fevers, smallpox, and hookworm.

Malaria was of special importance as the local incidence was reported to be high. The season started in April but little malaria and few anopheline mosquitoes were in evidence before the Division left Tunisia in the middle of May, and only three primary cases were reported in the Division. Precautions, however, had been taken. Unit anti-malaria squads had been formed and trained and lectures had been given to all troops. Mosquito-proof bivouacs or bush nets and a new anti-mosquito cream were issued as the old cream was found to be useless. Flysol was used. Paris green and malariol were available and draining and spraying were carried out. Dress regulations were enforced.

The 1st NZ Anti-Malaria Control Unit was attached to the Division on 23 April and carried out a survey of the divisional area and recruited civilian labour. A field malaria laboratory was available in the Corps area and the consultant malariologist was also in the area. The New Zealand malaria officer considered that the provision of protective nets or bivouacs and an efficient repellent cream were the best and only possible means of protection while the Division was in a mobile role.

Bilharzia was said to be very prevalent. To safeguard against infection strict instructions were given to hyperchlorinate all water page 451 used by the troops. This proved effective as only one case of haematuria suspected of possible infection was reported.

There were two cases of typhus in March with one death, but none in April or May. There was only one case of typhoid and, apart from a few cases of dysentery, no other serious disease.

In Eighth Army generally there was little sickness—only ·915 per thousand daily. Hepatitis was still present to some extent—in January 7·05, February 2·37, and March ·62 per thousand. Septic skin conditions were common, but desert sores were not seen so frequently. In spite of the prevalence of venereal disease in the civil population there had been no increase in the Army.