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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Showers and Disinfestation

Showers and Disinfestation

Under Major D. P. Kennedy, 4 Field Hygiene Section with its captured Italian shower unit had been able to arrange hot showers at Tripoli for all troops of the Division. Owing to the continued movement and the difficulties of water supply, showers were not available again till after the battle of Takrouna. The troops engaged at Takrouna were infested with fleas, and shortly after the battle they were all showered and their clothing and bedding disinfested. The other units in the Division were treated later. The troops were all carefully examined during the disinfestation and very few of them were found to be infested with lice, the percentage ranging from 0 to 2 or 3 per cent. When infestation did occur, it generally followed the enforced occupation of enemy positions during battle, and once occurred when blankets used by prisoners of war were carried in trucks. During the battle of the Tebaga Gap, when thousands of prisoners were taken, the Hygiene Section was attached to the cage and supervised the sanitation and disinfestation. All the prisoners were examined and disinfested. About 16 per cent of the Italians were found to be lousy but comparatively few of the Germans. Guards and drivers associated with prisoners of war were regularly disinfested and the trucks sprayed with cresol. Occupied enemy territory entered following the battle of Mareth was often filthy, and precautionary measures, especially against lice, were necessary. RMOs carried out routine inspections and disinfestation was carried out as required.