Baby isolated at East Glamorgan Hospital

Alan Bennett contacted Smallpox1962 with this moving report of the impact of the outbreak on his family, 51 years ago.

On 7 February 1962 my second daughter was born at East Glamorgan Hospital. Mother and daughter were released a week later. A midwife visited the baby for the next ten working days. My wife Joan became anxious towards the ends of the midwife’s visits she felt that there was something wrong with the baby. On the last day, expressing her concerns to the midwife, the midwife asked if the baby was feeding and sleeping normally. Yes. No problem then! As she was leaving, my wife still expressing her concern, the midwife decided to return to the baby to check her temperature. 103 and the baby was collected and returned to East Glamorgan Hospital alone. Continue reading

Isolated in hospital with new-born baby – new audio

Photo: Smallpox 1962

Mary Alleyne was a patient in East Glamorgan Hospital in 1962, awaiting the birth of her second child. When obstetrician Robert Hodkinson was diagnosed with smallpox, she and her baby were confined to the hospital for three weeks.

Listen to her story.

‘All clear near’ in smallpox outbreak – South Wales Echo: 26 March 1962

Fifty years ago today, hopes were high that the smallpox outbreak in Wales – which had killed six people and infected many more – was at an end.  With no new cases reported for 17 days, the South Wales Echo predicted that the all-clear was near.

The paper also reported the release from quarantine of 20 children who had been isolated in Ward 3 at East Glamorgan Hospital for three weeks.  Among them were Wayne Roberts from Llanharry, Peter Morgan from Treforest and William Scott from Efail Isaf.  The paper carried a photograph of one of the nurses released with the children – Gillian Bowen SRN.

Woman loses second daughter to smallpox – S Wales Echo 5 March 1962

Fifty years ago today, the South Wales Echo reported the death of Patricia Pugh (24), whose sister Margaret Mansfield died at East Glamorgan Hospital on 9 February. Her mother, Mrs Evans was in quarantine in her home in Maerdy, Rhondda.  Her son Brian was in isolation in Bristol along with his family.  She had also lost a grand-daughter when Mrs Mansfield’s baby was still-born on 9 February.  How Margaret Mansfield had contracted smallpox remained a mystery, but all cases in the valleys’ outbreak were traced back to her.  See How smallpox spread in Rhondda.

Baby ill with smallpox – East Glamorgan Hospital – 4 March 1962

On Sunday 4 March, exactly 50 years ago, 9-month-old Melanie Williams was diagnosed with smallpox at East Glamorgan Hospital near Llantrisant. She was the ninth case in the outbreak in the south Wales valleys (counting Margaret Mansfield – the first and undiagnosed case – and Mrs Mansfield’s still-born baby). Continue reading

28 February 1962 – 4-year-old boy with smallpox

Fifty years ago, as health officials searched frantically for contacts of two known cases of smallpox in the south Wales valleys, a four-year-old boy was diagnosed with the virus.  This was another alarming development in the outbreak. Continue reading

50 years ago today: 2 cases of smallpox in the valleys – the crisis begins

On 25 February 1962, fears of an outbreak of smallpox in Wales became a reality. A doctor at East Glamorgan Hospital, Llantrisant – who had been ill for several days – was diagnosed with the virus. On the same day a woman from Maerdy in the Rhondda was found to have smallpox. The disease was out in the valleys and a frantic hunt for contacts and the source of the virus began. Despite the panic in Cardiff the previous month, until this point there had been no outbreak.

The mystery was how Robert Hodkinson and Marion Jones had caught the disease. Both were sent to the isolation hospital at Penrhys. Smallpox killed the doctor. Marion Jones survived.

Read the full story under Rhondda, Death of a Doctor and Documents.

50 years ago today – woman dies in childbirth and smallpox enters the valleys

On 8 February 1962, a young woman died at East Glamorgan Hospital near Llantrisant after giving birth to a still-born child.  Despite a post-mortem examination, smallpox was not suspected.  But when Dr Robert Hodkinson later fell ill with the disease, it was concluded that she must have been carrying it and he must have caught it from her body.  Many members of her family and neighbours in the Rhondda later developed smallpox and several – including her sister – died. How she caught it remains a mystery.

See Death of a Doctor.