Journals of Several Expeditions Made in Western Australia, During the Years 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832/A Report on the Diseases of Perth
|←Appendix No. 1.—Journal of an Expedition over General Darling's Range, 100 miles east from Swan River||Appendix No. 2.—A Report on the Diseases of Perth||Appendix No. 3.—Letter from Mr. Hardy→|
A REPORT on the DISEASES of Perth, Western Australia from 1st Jan, to 31st Dec. 1831.
The prevalent diseases this year were similar to those of the last, viz. Dysentery, Opthalmia, Fever, and Scurvy.
Dysentery.—There were fewer cases of this disease than in 1830. They were of the same mild character as described in my last report. As the causes, symptoms, and treatment, are there detailed, it is unnecessary to repeat them. All the cases have terminated favourably.
Opthalmia.— Neither was this disease so general as during tne preceding year. Those who escaped it in 1830 were now generally attacked. It was of the sub-acute, purulent character, already described; no unfavourable termination has taken place. The Aborigines are liable to this disease, but I have not seen any amongst them, whose vision was permanently injured by it.
Fever—has been also on the decline, and the symptoms of a milder character. It appears to have been brought on by malaria, wet and cold, fatigue, or intemperance; or perhaps, in some instances, all these causes conjoined; there are no proofs of its being of a contagious nature; on the contrary, it has seldom occurred to two persons residing in the same house. In that portion of the town of Per&, called the Bazaar, where some bad cases occurred the last year, there has not been one this, which may be accounted for by the improvements which have taken place in that neighbourhood—the clearing, the draining, and the erection of good houses. It was mentioned in my last report, that some ships arrived here at the commencement of the settlement, with typhus fever on board, and that it was possible the fever might have been introduced in that way. I am now inclined to doubt, whether any euch disease can exist here under the ordinary circumstances of the atmosphere; no case of measles, small pox, scarlatina, or other contagious disease. has hitherto been met with. Syphilis is unknown, and vaccination, after repeated trials, has failed.
Scurvy has not been either so common or so formidable as last year. The increasing comforts of the settlers arc gradually undermining and will soon eradicate this disease.
The cases of disease have been, on the whole, fewer in number, and milder in character this year than the preceding. The favourable opinion I have already expressed of the influence of this climate on European constitutions, as well as a residence for invalids from India, is strengthened by a further experience of two years.
I have met with several individuals here, who, on leaving England, were great sufferers from dyspepsia, and disorders of the digestive organs generally, from the nervous affections which so often accompany these—from hypochondria, from asthma, and from bronchial diseases—who have recovered their health in a remarkable degree since their arrival. Some of slight figures have become more robust and stronger. Parturition with the female sex is expeditious and safe, being accomplished by the efforts of nature alone within from three to six hours. No woman has died in child-birth in this colony since its commencement, nor am I aware of any who died within a month after.
Children thrive remarkably well; and I may add, every description of live stock, although collected from different climates,—England, India, South America, Africa, &c., and various plants and vegetables collected from as many different sources, find here a congenial temperature.
Indeed I am disposed to conclude, that when the settlers are well lodged and fed, and the country more cultivated and improved, but few diseases will be met with; I might perhaps say, only dysentery and opthalmia, and these of a mild character.
Wm. Milligan, M.D.
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