Map showing location of plague cases for eight years in metropolitan area outside one mile radius of the general post office
News of the day

Daily Mail, Tuesday 30 May 1922, page 7


The Health Department examined 189 rats and 386 mice from Brisbane, and 61 smears from Sandgate yesterday, and all gave negative results. There were no cases of plague reported in Queensland yesterday.

The last case of plague in man in Brisbane was reported on March 13, 1922.

The plague bulletin issued by the Health Department on Saturday showed that 10,378 rodents were examined during the week, and none were found to be infected. The last infected rodent was obtained on April 28.

One case of plague from lnnisfail was reported on May 22. The patient was a male, 36 years of age, and a labourer employed at Daradgee wood cutters' camp, near Innisfail.


Bubonic plague, otherwise known as the ‘Black Death’, has followed a cyclical course throughout world history. During the 19th century sporadic outbreaks of plague occurred in various parts of Australia, but the epidemic of 1900-1909 which claimed 219 lives in Queensland alone, was by far the most serious in Australian history. Plague is caused by a bacillus found in fleas which normally feed on rats. Poor sanitation, sub-standard housing and high population densities are contributory factors in the spread of plague among humans, and these were chronic problems facing many Queensland ports in 1900 when plague first appeared. The Queensland Government responded to the crisis by appointing Dr Nathaniel Burnett (Bertie) Ham as the State’s first Commissioner of Public Health, with his recommendations enforced by health officers stationed in Queensland’s major coastal centres. Bounties were paid for dead rats and professional rat-catchers were employed by municipal authorities. Ham largely conducted his campaign through tight quarantine controls, fumigation and the destruction of infected materials, but the battle against plague was finally won through major sanitary improvements and the demolition of sub-standard buildings. Constant vigilance was still required, as a lapse in protective measures led to yet another outbreak of bubonic plague in 1921-1922. On the latter occasion 63 people lost their lives in Queensland.


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