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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Health of Troops

Health of Troops

The men arrived in Crete very tired and with little personal equipment. There had, however, been no sickness in Greece and the troops rapidly recovered in the peaceful conditions and excellent climate of Crete, probably helped considerably by the facilities for sea-bathing that were available. In spite of a reduction in the rations, made necessary by the unexpected number of troops to be supplied, the health of the troops remained very good throughout the campaign. There was very little sickness and practically no endemic disease, except dysentery.

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Shortly after the arrival of the troops many of them suffered from a transient attack of diarrhoea, and towards the end of the campaign mild dysentery was also present, but not to any marked extent.

A British hygiene section had been stationed in Crete for some time before the arrival of the troops from Greece. A malarial survey had recorded widespread infection by malaria in the villages and measures were taken to control the spread of the disease. The 4th Field Hygiene Section under Captain Irwin began at once to investigate the local conditions and to carry out a mosquito survey in our area, finding several areas infested with mosquitoes. The troops had no individual protection – such as nets, cream, or sprays – yet very few cases of malaria occurred. Fortunately, the malaria season had not really commenced before the troops left Crete.

There were no cases of typhoid. Venereal disease had been very prevalent among the garrison troops, but the incidence in our troops in the short and active period that they remained on Crete was not high. There is no mention of any other disease.