Typhoid Fever 1939


typhoid1939 didn’t get off to a good start for Blantyre. Just a year before World War 2, Typhoid fever broke out in the East End of Blantyre.

Newspaper reports in the first week of January commented, “At present only four cases are known to the authorities and it is officially emphasised that there is no cause for alarm. The district affected is Baird’s Rows, where 125 families have their homes. The sick persons are two daughters and a son from one house and a girl aged 17 from another. It was about three weeks ago that Barbara McMillan (8) 109 Baird’s Rows, was removed to Lanarkshire Hospital at Motherwell suffering from the fever. Later Mary Savage (17) residing a few houses away from the first patient, was certified to be suffering from the malady, and on Tuesday two other children of the McMillan family were also found to be affected. They too were removed to the County Hospital.


“Very ill” was the report on Tuesday night on Barbara McMillan, but the other patients were reported to be improving. Interviewed on Tuesday night, an official after stressing that a serious view should not be taken of this incidence of typhoid said that sporadic cases of the fever occurred at various times in various parts of the country.

The present position might at first appear more serious than usual, he added, but the authorities had found an explanation in that all the sufferers had been in close contact with each other. Another official disclosed that two of the cases which have been removed to hospital were discovered as a result of the close medical supervision which had been in operation since the first case occurred.


A department of Health official on Tuesday visited Baird’s Rows district and made an inspection. Water supply and the drainage system came in for attention. Meantime instructions have been given to people in the area on the immediate steps to be taken to prevent the spread of the fever. (pictured)

Barbara McMillan was reported on Thursday to be critically ill. Her condition was so grave that a blood transfusion was ordered, and from six volunteers, William Clelland, a miner, also of Bairds Rows, Blantyre, was accepted. It is understood that the officials are confident that they have the outbreak well in hand, and there is no cause for alarm.

The other three patients were reported as being quite comfortable. Yesterday, the condition of Barbara McMillan was said to be satisfactory.”

On social media:

Trisha Mcginty My mum told me that TB broke out & all the patients where put in 2 Hairmyeres Hospital & where Kept there because it was much Colder up in EK, so the germ wouldn’t spread

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