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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Health of the Troops

Health of the Troops

This was, in general, very good during this fine summer period, but the admissions to hospital showed an increase from 1·73 per 1000 per day in June to 2·04 in July and 2·17 in August. The percentage of the force in hospital was 5·08 at the beginning of July, 5·98 at the end of the month, and 5·64 at the end of August.

Rations were excellent during the period. Fresh vegetables, cabbages and potatoes, in particular, were supplied.

The health and morale of the troops was benefited by leave arranged to Rome, Lake Albano, Ischia, and Sorrento. Some units arranged special leave camps.

Infectious disease was, as usual, responsible for the major part of the sick wastage of the Division during July and August.

1. ‘NYD fever’ accounted for 543 patients in the Division. The large majority of these cases were retained in the divisional medical units and the CCS and not evacuated to the general hospitals. They were mainly cases of three- to five-day fever which occurred in an page 603 epidemic in early and mid-summer. Many of the cases subsequently developed jaundice. Others were thought to be cases of ‘swine fever'. Sandfly fever was also considered to account for some of the cases; the vectors bred in damp rubble in all coastal regions from July to September.

2. Infective hepatitis was the diagnosis in 801 cases and, as already mentioned, many of the NYD fever cases subsequently proved to be cases of hepatitis. There was an increase in numbers in July and a still more marked increase in August, corresponding to the autumnal incidence of the disease.

3. Diarrhoea accounted for 45 cases, some of them proving to be cases of amoebic dysentery. Cases of bacillary dysentery were treated with larger doses of sulphaguanidine, the average course ranging from 100-120 gms. over five days. More satisfactory results were obtained than previously.

4. Malaria: There were 36 cases, 29 being in July. The incidence was low, especially as this was the height of the malaria season. Anopheles maculipennis was the mosquito prevalent in Italy. It bred in brackish, stagnant water and was largely restricted to the coastal areas. In winter it lived in houses, cellars, and stables. The malaria season was from March to November, with July and August the peak months. The common infection was benign tertian, malignant tertian being very rare.

5. Typhoid Fever: This disease was widespread among the civilian population and appeared to be virulent in type. Four cases were treated in 2 General Hospital during the two months, with one death. The patient who died had had six inoculations of TAB, the last one eight months before the onset of the disease. He died following two perforations of an extensively ulcerated ileum.

6. Pneumonia: Thirty cases of pneumonia were admitted to 2 General Hospital, but only nine of these were in August, by which time the disease had ceased to be of any significance.

7. Venereal Disease: There were 205 new cases in Italy in July and 96 in August. There was some increase in the syphilitic cases. Penicillin was available for both gonorrhoea and syphilis and seemingly good results were obtained by its use. The difficulties due to sulphonamide-resistant cases had been solved by penicillin.