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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy



Administrative arrangements had been made for the prevention of malaria during the season, and this was of particular importance as the Division passed through areas in which malaria was prevalent. The malaria units were reconstituted and malaria circulars were issued similar to those drawn up the previous year. Protective clothing and nets, repellent liquid (dimethyl phthalate), and mepacrine were used. The OC 4 Field Hygiene Company was appointed special malaria officer and the RMOs acted as unit advisers, but the OCs of units were held responsible for the enforcement of actual measures in their own units. Unit anti-malaria squads were formed of one NCO and three other ranks, with equal numbers of reserves. The spraying of living quarters and also of any casual water in the unit area was carried out. (It was stated that the incidence of malaria in the forces in Italy in 1944 had varied from 0·64 to 1·34 per thousand, but in the New Zealand Division it had only been 0·16 per thousand. In one Allied division, which had stayed one night without precautions in a highly malarious area, there had been over 540 cases in one week and over 500 in another.)

The necessity of keeping camps away from villages and low-lying areas was stressed, 2000 yards being laid down as the minimum distance. Adult mosquitoes were destroyed by daily spraying, and larvae by weekly dusting of water surfaces with Paris green. One part of Paris green was mixed with ninety-nine parts of any convenient dry material such as soil, fine sand, or sawdust and handsown from haversacks.

Any cases of fever were adequately investigated and blood tests taken. Medical officers were trained in the diagnosis from blood films and a malaria officer was appointed in each field ambulance. These measures proved satisfactory.

The cases reported in the Division were: January, 1; February, 2; March, 1; April, 2; May, 22; June, 12.

page 668

The hospital figures for the whole 2 NZEF were:

Jan 1 4 5
Feb 5 4 9 (4 relapses)
Mar 14 4 18 (8 relapses)
Apr 16 3 19 (7 relapses)
May 25 6 31
Jun 20 13 33
81 34 115

No case of any severity was reported. Malaria provided no problem as regards man wastage or serious illness, because of the efficient control measures adopted by the Army generally and by 2 NZ Division in particular. The taking of mepacrine produced only very minor disturbance to general health in some cases.