1955 Royal Free Hospital outbreak

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1955 Royal Free Hospital outbreak: In 1955 there was a cluster outbreak of myalgic encephalomyelitis amongst staff at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, in the United Kingdom.[1] This outbreak occurred at a prior location to the current hospital site in Hampstead NW3. The disease name Myalgic Encephalomyelitis emerged to describe the illness.[2]

Outbreak location[edit | edit source]

The building that housed the Royal Free Hospital in 1955 when the outbreak occurred

The outbreak occurred at the former site of Royal Free Hospital at 256 Grays Inn Road (WC1X) which is now the Eastman Dental Hospital.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Between 13 July 1955 and 24 November 1955, two hundred ninety-two (292) people, of whom the vast majority were hospital personnel, became ill. Personnel from the medical, nursing, auxiliary medical, ancillary, and administrative departments were affected. Of these two hundred fifty-five (255) were admitted to the hospital.[3] Despite the hospital census being near capacity, only 12 patients were afflicted.[4]

By 5 October 1955, the hospital had to close to contain the outbreak. The first to report ill were a resident doctor and a ward sister.[5] More females became ill than males, but at the time it was believed to be because of the staff's living quarters not gender, as more females than males resided at the facility.[6]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. An Outbreak of Encephalomyelitis in the Royal Free Hospital Group, London, in 1955 - The Medical Staff Of The Royal Free Hospital
  2. Wikipedia - Royal Free Hospital
  3. Compston, N. D. (1978). An outbreak of encephalomyelitis in the Royal Free Hospital Group, London, in 1955. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 54(637), 722–724. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2425309/pdf/postmedj00263-0019.pdf
  4. http://www.art-bin.com/art/royalfree_en.html
  5. Dawson, J. (1987). Royal Free disease: perplexity continues. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Ed.), 294(6568), 327–328.
  6. Compston, N. D. (1978). An outbreak of encephalomyelitis in the Royal Free Hospital Group, London, in 1955. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 54(637), 722–724. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2425309/pdf/postmedj00263-0019.pdf


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From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history