THE CATTLE PLAGUE IN EUROPEBY J..R. DODGE, OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The years 1865-’6 will be memorable in the annals of British farm stock. Long will farmers of the island kingdom painfully recur to recent scenes of suffering and pecuniary loss, in yard and field, in shed and byte, when medication seemed worthless and recovery impossible. Three millions of pounds sterling, or fifteen millions of dollars, may be a moderate estimate of the diminution of the meat supply and stock of the farm; but the indirect money losses flowing from the visitation in the cost of treatment and care, in diminished profits of pasturage, reduction of the aggregate stock of farm-yard manures, derangement of crop rotations, failures of farmers of moderate resources, increase in prices of meat, and other items of pecuniary: damage, are not at present calculable.
The disease has distinctive characteristics, but they are so numerous that a confusion of names for it has arisen in different countries, at different times. Formerly it was known only as a murrain, a general designation for fatal diseases among cattle In Germany, where its visits have often excited alarm and elicited medical inquiry, it has been known by a variety of hard words, given in accordance with prevalent theories of its nature, one of them signifying an impaction of the third stomach; others having reference to the condition of the liver; others meaning gastric fever, and malignant dysenteric fever. In France it is called Peste, and Le Typhus contagieux des bêtes bovines. Sometimes it is known as the Siberian Cattle Plague, which is liable to be confounded with the Siberian Boil Plague—an enzootic rather than an epizootic disease. Gamgee formerly called it Contagious Typhoid Plague. Typhus Boum Contagiosus is common upon the continent. In Great Britain it is the Cattle Plague, It is in all these localities the same disease, having the same symptoms, and attended with similar fatality.
It is deemed probable by European veterinary authorities that rarely has a period of fifty years elapsed without a visitation of some deadly cattle disease. Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Georgics, Columella, and several ancient agricultural writers, attest the correctness of such a view. The history of six hundred years past, more familiarly known, is full of references to these murrains, generally following in the wake of large armies, and spreading desolation among farm herds. These outbreaks were not always the present rinderpest. The Black Death, commencing in 1347, attacked men, horses, cattle, deer, bears, wolves, hares, and other animals. In 1709 all countries between Russia and France were infected. At this time 70,000 head perished in Naples, 100,000 in Silesia, 300,000 in the Netherlands. In upper Italy the plague was frightful in 1744, when 40,000 perished in Piedmont, 18,000 in Milan, thence passing into Germany and destroying 200,000. From 1745 to 1749 the losses of Denmark were estimated at 280,000. It entered Sweden and destroyed 32,584 cattle in the province of Schonen, leaving alive but two per cent. of the horned stock. In 1745 it appeared in England for the fourth time. In 1774 the cattle of some of the French provinces were almost exterminated, and the losses were reported at 150,000 cattle, worth 15,000,000 francs. Just prior to the close of the last century, in three years of war, Italy lost from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000. Faust estimated a loss of 10,000,000 head of cattle in France and Belgium from 1713 to 1796.
It is officially stated that the rinderpest, since 1711, in Germany alone has carried off 25,000,000 cattle, and that the cases of recovery have averaged but one in four. Such is the fatal character of this disease, which has appeared in all seasons, spares neither young nor old, and is little dependent on external circumstances.
Professor Gamgee cites historical mention of five outbreaks in Great Britain of a disease identical with the present plague; the first in the year 810, extending through Europe, manifesting its greatest power in Britain; the second in 1223 to 1225, attacking respectively Hungary, Austria, Italy, Germany, and the British Isles; the third, nearly five hundred years later, in 1714, at which period all Europe was severely scourged; the fourth in 1745, continuing twelve years, in the third of which 80,000 cattle were destroyed by orders in council, and in the twelfth and last the single county of Cheshire lost 30,000; and again, in 1769, when comparatively few cattle were destroyed. The present or sixth outbreak occurred in June, 1865, after three years of fearful ravages in several portions of eastern Europe. In 1862, in the Austrian dominions, 296,000 attacks were reported, and 152,000 deaths. In 1863 it overran Hungary and its dependencies, as well as Gallicia, attacking 14 per cent. of all the cattle in those countries. Dr. Marsch, veterinary professor at the Agricultural College at Altenburg, Hungary, writes of the recent visitation: Within the last year the scourge of the rinderpest has caused ravages among the cattle to an enormous extent, chiefly in the eastern crown lands.” In 1863 the fatality amounted to 65 per cent. of the cases attacked in Hungary, 77 in east Gallicia, 81 in Croatia and Sclavonia, 83 on the military frontier, 88 in Moravia, 92 in lower Austria, and 94 in west Gallicia.
The origin of the disease in England is thus given by the “commissioners appointed to inquire into the origin and nature of the cattle plague:"*
"Twenty three days at least before the first outbreak in London a parcel of Russian bullocks, the first it is asserted that were brought direct from that country to England, were sold in the metropolitan market by the importer, a London cattle salesman. They had been shipped at Revel, and landed at Hull; part of them had been sold and sent to various places in the north of England, and the rest despatched to London. The southern provinces of Russia, if not the birthplace, are the constant home of a disease which, as we shall hereafter show, is identified with the cattle plague; and to this cause the introduction of the plague into England has been often and confidently ascribed.”
Some obscurity hangs over the early history of this transaction, but the gene cal belief is strong among intelligent Englishmen that the germ of the disease was imported from Russia in the cargo above mentioned.
In this second report, the commissioners say that the careful observations of medical officials “point distinctly to contagion as the means by which the plague was originated and propagated in London.”
In France, to which country the infection spread, practical and efficacious measures were promptly adopted. Early in September last, transit and importation of all cattle was prohib.ted, and the refuse of all cattle of infested countries was strictly prohibited on all the frontiers; and the same prohibition was applied to countries bordering on those infested. No cattle were allowed to pass any of the frontiers without rigid and competent inspection. Such measures were adopted immediately upon the report of two professors of the veterinary school at Alfort, who were sent to make returns from official examination of the disease in Germany and England. Notwithstanding all this precaution, the disease was introduced in two different localities, almost simultaneously, in a commune in Pas-de-Calais, by an importation of two Durhams from England, and on the Belgian frontier by a cow purchased in Belgium. By prompt and vigorous action of the government, the disease was completely suppressed by the beginning of November, with the total loss of forty-three cattle. In December it again broke out in the Jardin d’Acclimation of Bois-de-Bologne, introduced by two gazelles imported from England. It spread rapidly to yaks, zebus, goats, and fallow-deer; but all infected animals were at once slaughtered, to the number of thirty-five, and all traces of the disease were extirpated.
In Belgium, where precautionary and radical measures, analogous to those which were so efficacious in France, were adopted, the number of losses has not exceeded four or five hundred.
Returns from South Holland show that out of 29,031 cases 7,410 were slaughtered, 8,966 died, and 9,896, or about twenty-four per cent., recovered. In Utrecht the number of recoveries appear to be unusually large, being 926 to 790 deaths, while few have been slaughtered. Here the action of the authorities was resisted by force, and had to be supported by military detachments; and in some cases the troops were beaten off by large bands of peasants, and were obliged to take the cow-sheds by regular siege.
Its spread in England and Scotland were in accelerating ratio from the period of its first appearance, June 27, 1865, at Islington, in a herd in which were two cows just brought from the metropolitan cattle market. The entire herd, numbering ninety-three, fell victims, with several others purchased afterwards. In certain districts in the vicinity of London four-fifths of all the cattle either died or were slaughtered.Early in July the disease appeared in Norfolk county; soon after in Suffolk and Shropshire; thence it attacked county after county; and before the end of the month invaded Scotland. By the 14th of October it existed in twenty-nine counties in England, two in Wales, and sixteen in Scotland. The number attacked in the first week of October was 1,054; in the second, 1,729; and in the third, 1,873. Up to this date the whole number attacked was 17,073, of which but 848 had recovered, or less than five per cent. 7,912 having died, 6,866 been killed, with 2,047 still on the sick-list. An analysis of the published returns shows that the percentage of attacks increased during 1865, and until the cattle plague act went into operation. Up to December, of every 100 cattle on farms or in sheds where the disease had established itself, 44 were attacked; to December 30, 51; and to January 27, 54. Of the total number known to have been attacked, up to the culminating point of this fatal epizootic, there were in every 100 cattle—
|Up to November 4||36||43||5||15|
|Up to November 11||34||44||5||15|
|Up to November 18||32||46||6||14|
|Up to November 25||29||48||7||15|
|Up to December 2||27||50||7||15|
|Up to December 9||24||51||7||15|
|Up to December 16||22||53||8||15|
|Up to December 23||20||54||9||15|
|Up to December 30||18||56||9||15|
|Up to January 6||17||57||10||14|
|Up to January 13||16||58||10||14|
|Up to January 20||15||59||11||14|
|Up to January 27||13||61||11||13|
The officially reported total number of attacks up to March 24, 1866, a month after the decline commenced, was 203,350; killed, 39,487; died, 120,834; recovered, 28,656; unaccounted for, 14,373.
It should be remembered that the cases reported are by no means all existing. The inspectors were unable to detect all the concealments practiced by butchers, jobbers, dairymen, and farmers. A London cow-keeper acknowledged to the cattle commission that of forty-one cows that died or were slaughtered on his premises, the inspector got the “knacker’s” receipt for the eleven that actually died of the disease.
Cheshire suffered more than any other county. While the first appearance of the plague in England was early in June, the first case in Cheshire did not occur until the first week in October. There was, but a single attack which proved fatal, and no new cases existed during the second week. Six cases appeared during the third week, and twenty-three in the fourth, ending October 28. From this time the disease spread rapidly, the new cases weekly through the year proving as follows, respectively: 40, 90, 279, 275, 343, 646, 943, 1,110. Up to January 11, 5,761 attacks had occurred in three months, while only 197 animals had been killed. But this alarming condition of affairs was only the prelude to heavier loss and more widespread alarm. In two months more the frightful total of 39,739 was reached, but still only 747 animals had been killed. With the execution of the cattle-plague act came instant and regularly increasing amelioration. Up to September 1, 1866, the proportion of attacks to total number of cattle exposed was 53.985 per cent.
A great disparity in its severity is seen in the different counties. The proportion of attacks in Cambridgeshire was 21.232 per cent. of all the cattle in the county; in the metropolitan police district, 17.784 per cent.; in the East Riding of Yorkshire, 17.537 per cent.; in Huntingdonshire, 12.583 per cent.; in the North Riding of Yorkshire, 8.888 per cent.; in Oxfordshire, 8.703 per cent in Lincolnshire, 8.808 per cent.; Norfolk and Shropshire came next. Ten counties show a low proportion, a fraction of one per cent., viz: Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, Cornwall, Somersetshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, and Rutlandshire.
The official returns up to October 13, 1866, show that the number of attacks per week in the island of Great Britain had been reduced to eleven cases. Total number of attacks, 253,702; killed, 84,992; died, 124,303; recovered, 33,413; unaccounted for, 10,994—showing a total loss, in fifteen months, of about 220,000 animals. No one supposes this is the entire loss. It cannot fall much below a grand total of 300,000 if all the cases were ascertained. At only $50 per head the direct loss in cattle would be $15,000,000. Its indirect effects upon agricultural interests have cost and will still cost many millions.
While the pest has been raging in Britain, it is worthy of remark that for two years past a fatal “murrain” has ravaged British Burmah, destroying 85 out of every 100 cattle or buffaloes attacked. An official commission has examined the subject in its various aspects, and Veterinary Surgeon T. P. Gudgin, of the second dragoon guards, has prepared an elaborate report upon the nature, causes, and treatment of the disease, which has recently been received officially by the Department of Agriculture. Buffaloes constitute a large proportion of the stock of the district, being stronger and more efficient workers than the common cattle. It appears that disease has committed frightful ravages among these herds from time to time for sixty years past, usually decimating the herds of horned cattle infected, often destroying them by hundreds, and sometimes sweeping off entire herds. It is found more prevalent in trading districts, in which the movement of cattle is frequent and extensive, while isolated districts and almost impenetrable jungles are comparatively exempt from its ravages. In 1864 heavy losses were endured, and in 1865 estimates of 100,000 victims were made. The plague is yearly becoming more widely disseminated, till cattle owners have yielded to despondency, and the cultivation of vegetable products, particularly of rice, has sensibly declined. The extension of the present outbreak, while in most cases traceable to infection, is charged measurably to epizootic influence, rendering the system peculiarly liable to attacks of the disease.
The cattle are not generally bred in the district. Purchases of buffaloes are usually made near the end of the dry period in anticipation of the approaching agricultural season; and it is in the beginning of the rainy season that the disease is most rapidly extended. Sudden access to luxuriant pasturage, after a reduction in condition from insufficient or innutritious food in time of drought, may aid, it is thought, in extending the disease and increasing its severity. The report discredits the assumption that the disease is indigenous, brought into existence by atmospheric changes, or generated by the soil, or by miasmatic poisons. It acknowledges the possibility that such influences may be predisposing, but not creative. The general healthiness of the country is assumed from the condition, size, girth, and immense muscular development of the buffaloes.
The character of the disease is analogous to the “rinderpest” of the mother country, if not identical with it. It appears to have the same symptoms of a malignant and infectious fever of a typhoid character, attacking the mucus membranes, running its course in the same period, characterized by a similar amount of mortality, and displaying the same post mortem lesions. It is propagated by means of infected clothing, drinking-vessels, hides, horns, and other material substances. The period of incubation varies from five to twelve days. Little has been accomplished by the use of medicines, or by any treatment whatever, in arresting the progress or reducing the death rate of this malady.
Efforts have been put forth to reduce the febrile action, restrain the diarrhcea, and raise the nervous energies. Epsom salts, sulphur, nitre, ginger, and camphor, have been recommended for the first stage; catechu and opium for the second; and linseed oil and spirits of turpentine for the third; but it is admitted of this course of treatment that “it does not promise much.” It is claimed, however, in a report by Doctor Palmer, that the success of the turpentine and oil treatment during the “Calcutta epizootic” warrants a fair trial in Burmah. The natives, too, are sedulous in administering such remedies as rice-water, the milk of the cocoa-nut, tamarind paste, pepper and salt rubbed into the tongue, “samshoo” spirted into the eyes, earth-worms, chicken’s liver, elephant skin, bear’s bowels, and various charms. It does not appear, however, that native veterinarians are more successful than European.
The medical authorities of Europe are divided upon many points touching the nature and origin of this mysterious disease. Eminent official experimenters have examined, with a microscope magnifying 2,800 diameters, capable of rendering visible particles of matter a one hundred thousandth part of an inch in diameter, the blood, textures and mucous discharges of infected animals, without discovering the principle of contagion. Chemistry, like the microscope, fails to detect it. In its effects it resembles other animal poisons. It acts on cattle, sometimes on sheep, deer, &c., but has never been communicated to non-ruminants.
The official investigations in England do not sustain the theory that it is disseminated by a wave of poisonous atmosphere flowing over a country, though it is communicated from sick animals short distances through the air. In the Albert Veterinary College experiments, animals took the disease at twenty yards distance.ψ The professors do not venture to say how far the infection may be carried in the air. “A distance of one hundred or two hundred yards in some cases appears to have given immunity, while in others beasts have been affected, and presumably through the air, at longer distances. Possibly it may drift under special circumstances, as in hollows or valleys, with an almost stagnant air, whereas, in an open country, and with a rapidly moving air, it may soon be so diluted and oxidized as to be innocuous.”
It is declared that the influence of varieties of soil is not very marked, and that meteorological conditions produce no decided effect. In winter, crowding of cattle together is said to be unfavorable, and in summer the freer movement of cattle often spreads the disease. It is thought that differences in elevation may exercise an important influence. In the county of Yorkshire, for example, having great diversities of surface, and suffering severely from the plague, it is stated that not a single outbreak occurred at a height of one thousand feet above the sea. In other countries a greater severity of the disease has been noted in marshy and low-lying districts.
A writer in the Edinburgh Journal of Agriculture suggests the theory that rinderpest may depend upon geological formations for the facility of its propagation; and he asserts, after examining the locality of the several outbreaks in Britain, that it had seldom or never devastated districts where the soil rests upon the older of the stratified rocks, the Cambrian, the Silurian, and the fundamental gneiss; while the sandstone formation, both old and new, have apparently been particularly obnoxious to its ravages. Of the present outbreak, both in Great Britain and on the continent, the remark appears to be true. A glance at the map, in connexion with the published statement of losses in the respective counties, shows the mountain region (with older geological formations) to be absolutely exempt from loss. Wales, for instance, an elevated and broken country, has been entirely free from disease, except a few cases in the borders of the Flint and Denbigh counties, in the immediate vicinity of Cheshire, (near Liverpool,) the worst scourged district in England. The mountain region of Scotland was similarly exempt. But two counties in all England escaped—Monmouth, adjoining Wales, and Westmoreland, among the mountains of the North of England. The disease, it is stated, was again and again introduced into the Scottish counties of Selkirk and Peebles, both Silurian in their formation, but died out without inflicting much injury.
Medical authorities, with few exceptions, unite in expressing the belief that the plague has never had a spontaneous origin west of Russia; and they generally declare that no clear evidence has been adduced to show that it exists there, except by the aid of contagion, yet is always found there so constantly that the eminent veterinarians, Jessen and Unterberger, deem it necessary to inoculate every head of horned stock in that country. It is said that foreign stock introduced into Russia fall Victims more readily than native cattle.
Age appears to exert little influence, though it is affirmed by some that young calves and cows are more affected than oxen, and a lean or fat ox is liable to suffer more severely than one in moderate condition. Cows yielding milk, or in gestation, particularly at the latter part of the period, are more susceptible.
It seems probable that those causes which affect the health and vigor of all animals should not only predispose to disease but render its attack more violent and the prospect for recovery more doubtful, yet there are numerous cases in which herds subjected to impure air, poor diet, and bad water have fared better than those well fed in elean and well-ventilated sheds.
The visible premonitory symptoms, according to Professor Gamgee, “consist in shivering, muscular twitchings, and uneasiness. In some cases there is dullness, and in others excitement, amounting even to delirium and associated with remarkable sensitiveness. There is often a short husky cough. The appetite is irregular, capricious, and then entirely lost; rumination ceases. The animal grinds its teeth, yawns, arches its back, and draws its legs together under its body. The eyes, nose, and mouth are dry, red, and hot. The extremitics are cold, though the internal heat is high. Constipation, as a rule, exists, and secretion is generally arrested, as indicated in milch cows by the milk at once ceasing to flow. The respirations are often, but not invariably, increased in frequency; expirations succeed the inspirations tardily, and with each there is a low moan; the temperature continues to rise, though the animal’s skin becomes rigid, amd indicates functional derangement by a staring coat, dryness, and eruption.”
The professor’s extended description of the progress of the disease, reduced to a few simple paragraphs, and relieved of its technicalities, presents the following conditions:
Redness of the visible mucous membranes appear, especially of the gums, lips, and papill on the inside of the cheeks, and is at first partial, pale, and patchy. Whitish opaque specks the size of a pin’s head are seen; softening and exfoliation of the mucous surfaces occur, resulting in dirtyish yellow flaky appearances in the worst cases.
The muscular twitchings of face and neck are characteristic, but not so typical as the discharge from eyes and nose, which is first glary and watery, and afterwards turbid. Animals sometimes exhibit a similar secretion when suffering from catarrh, but it is always an early symptom of rinderpest.
Restlessness is a marked symptom. Lying down and rising, looking round to the flank, drawing the hind legs forward as if suffering from colic, are frequent signs. Severe diarrhea sets in, and the animal becomes very thirsty. There is an increase in the severity of the symptoms in the night-time. The discharges are fetid, the urine scanty and albuminous.
After three days the symptoms increase in severity. The dysentery is aggravated, weakness increases, making standing or walking difficult. The pulse becomes feeble, but rapid, beating from 90 to 130 per minute. The discharge from eyes, nose, and vagina increases; the cough becomes less audible; the muscle, angles of the mouth, and nasal orifices are ulcerated with a greenish-yellow and somewhat dense granular deposit. Stupor, drowsiness, quick breathing, fætor of the exhalations, jerking respirations, coldness of the extremities, and moaning, are unfavorable symptoms in this stage. The feces, at first dark and slimy, filled with detached masses from the mucous surfaces, are very fetid and more or less tinged with blood.
In the last stage the mucous membranes acquire a leaden hue, the erosions are marked, and blood-spots occur; and involuntary evacuation of excrement, extreme fætor of the discharges, lowering of temperature, and increasing restlessness, betoken the approach of death.
Sometimes there is improvement about the third day, followed by a relapse; and cases of apparent convalescence occur, while the gastric and intestinal lesions continue; and in possibly two or three weeks, when least expected, alarming symptoms supervene, with severe diarrhœa and other discharges, and the animal sinks and dies.
As early as 1757, during the twelve years’ visitation of the plague in England, Dr. Layard, the historian of the disease in that day, thus identifies it with the present malady: “The first appearance of the infection is a decrease of appetite; a poking out of the neck, implying some difficulty in deglutition; a shaking of the head, as if the ears were tickled; a hanging down of the ears, and deafness; a dullness of the eyes; and a moving to and fro in a constant uneasiness. All these signs except the last increase till the fourth day. Then a stupidity and unwillingness to move, great debility, a total loss of appetite, a running at the eyes and nose, sometimes sickness and throwing up of bile, a husky cough and shivering. The head, horns, and breath are very hot, while the body and limbs are cold. The fever increases towards evenings; the pulse is all along quick, contracted, and uneven. A constant diarrhea, or scouring of fetid green feces, a stinking breath, and nauseous steams from the skin, infect the air they are placed in. The blood is very florid, hot and frothy. The urine is high-colored; the roofs of their mouths and their barbs are ulcerated.”
The third and final report of the British commissions to inquire into the nature
and origin of the disease gives a description of the visible symptoms following the
incubative period, of which the following is a brief epitome:
The first outward sign is the peculiar eruption upon the lining membrane of the mouth and of the vagina. In the following day a disinclination to eat and ruminate is observed.
Two days after the first sign, marked indications of illness are apparent, and after this period the constitution is thoroughly invaded; and then ensue the drooping head, the hanging ears, the distressed look, the failing pulse, the oppressed breathing, the discharge from the eyes, nose, and mouth, the eruption of the skin, the fetid breath.
In two days more there occurs a great diminution of the contractile force of the heart and voluntary muscles, the pulse becomes very feeble and thready, the respiratory movements are modified, the temperature rapidly falls, and death usually occurs in the fifth day from the first visible signs of disease.
The possibility of discovering efficient remedies seemed to depend upon the practicability of indicating the existence of the disease by earlier signs than any of the visible symptoms above recorded. The subject was referred to Dr. Sanderson and Professor Gamgee, whose investigations are declared to establish the fact that the rise of temperature precedes any other symptom about forty-eight hours. The discovery is of practical value, in the opportunity for more prompt separation from sound animals, for shortening the period of quarantine, and for increasing the chances for success in medical treatment. Like diphtheria, and some other maladies of the human subject, this disease has so progressed in the period of incubation, when no danger was known or suspected, that recovery becomes difficult if not impossible. Within thirty-six to forty-eight hours after the animal has taken the plague by inoculation the natural temperature rises from 102° to 104°, and sometimes 104½° Fahrenheit. No acceleration of pulse is at this time apparent; eating, rumination, lactation, and other functions are performed as in health, so far as can be distinguished by the most careful attendants. Dr Sanderson was able, in eighty cases, to recognize the disease unfailingly by this rise in temperature. Professor Gamgee, called to test the incipient existence of the disease in a herd of forty apparently sound Ayrshire cows, from which a few attacked with the disease had been separated, discovered an increase of temperature ranging from 102° to 107°; and in seven days thirty-five of the number were dead, and none escaped the contagion. His test was made by inserting a delicate thermometer in the rectum, dipping the bulb in water at 100° between each examination.
The effect of the disease upon the blood is to diminish greatly the serum, probably as a result of the intestinal discharges, and to increase the amount of fibrine and corpuscles. The blood is drained of its soluble albumen.
The effect on the milk, as appears from analysis, is to increase the butter, salts, and casein, while the sugar of milk is greatly diminished.
The urine is albuminous, and is not coagulable in the severest cases. Bile- coloring matter, often imparting a deep green color, is usually present.
Food remains undigested in the various reservoirs for its proper preparation for assimilation; the secretion of the gastric juice ceases; the intestines become the seat of inflammation, and the disorganization and destruction of the blood and mucous membranes render recovery impossible.
Veterinarians have no faith in the attempted destruction of the virus in the living animal. When its efforts are palpable in visible symptoms of the disease, medication is powerless to neutralize it.
The disease is like other fevers in its periodicity, with abatement in the morning and increase at night. As in the pleuro-pneumonia, in certain cases, a chronic, hectic fever exists, from which the animal sinks. While death usually occurs between the third and sixth day, in some instances it supervenes within twenty-four hours of the exhibition of active symptoms. A sudden aggravation of alarming symptoms betokens approaching death; but convalescence is preceded by a gradual abatement of their severity, and attended with such indications of a return of appetite, a moist muzzle, more equable temperature of the body and extremities, and restored secretions of milk.
The prevention of cattle plague has been sought in various expedients, such as the prohibition of stock importation from foreign countries, quarantine, inspection of frontier posts and town markets, slaughtering sick and infected animals, indemnity, insurance, stopping of fairs and markets, the use of disintectants, vaccination, and inoculation.
That non-importation may be relied on for protection has been repeatedly shown; but to prove a certain safeguard, the protection must be absolute and smuggling prevented. Ireland has no cities to feed with foreign meat, and no occasion for importing cattle; it is also isolated by ocean walls, and has, therefore, been exempt from the infliction, notwithstanding the false alarm and consequent panic of last winter.
Hygienic management, where the pole-axe is not permitted full sway, may accomplish something for the protection of uninfected animals. The diseased should be kept warm in detached buildings provided with facilities for thorough ventilation and drainage; the sheds, and particularly all urine and excrement, should be disinfected; attendants should not be permitted to visit other farms, fairs, or markets; dogs should be kept tied, and utmost cleanliness should be maintained at all times.
Hygiene—Among skillful veterinarians and sensible farmers, hygienic means are depended upon farmore than medication. It is preferred to clothe the animal rather than close the apertures for ventilation. Cleanliness and fresh air, with suitable absorbents of noxious gases, are preferred to the vitiation of the air by chlorine or other gases evolved by disinfecting agents. Food is very sparingly given; at first, linseed tea or gruel; and afterwards, when purging begins, oatmeal gruel, free from coarse and indigestible portions of the meal. If appetite remains, well-boiled mashes, made of beans or peas and other material, are used to advantage. Particular care is advised to prevent this. food from becoming sour. Vegetable mashes are preferable to milk or soups. Moderation in diet is very essential, and cold water should be frequently supplied for drinking.
Medical treatment.—The administration of medicine has been resorted to in thousands of cases under varying circumstances and in all sections, and experiments have been made with agents running through the whole range of the materia medica with very little success, except to teach "how best to employ medicines, so as not to aggravate the malady in animals which have a chance of recovery.” Medicines have signally failed as curative means, but may be aids to a proper system of hygienic management. It is thought possible, by the help of medical investigations and experiments, to aid nature without unduly taxing the animal system in those cases in which vitality resists disease with some prospect of success. Medicinal agents have been used in every imaginable form of application; have been introduced into the stomach, the rectum, the open tissue beneath the skin, and the veins; and applications to the surface have been made by means of poultices and wet baths. Stimulants, sedatives, purgatives, neutral salts, mineral and vegetable tonics, antiseptics, and mineral acids have been called into requisition in vain. Allopathic and homeopathic treatment, water-cure, and botanic practice are attended with many deaths and few cures; and the result varies by a percentage too small for estimation if the animal has no treatment whatever. While the plague assumed a mild type in some instances, in others the fatality reached the high rate of ninety-five per cent. From actual returns of ten thousand cases, under various forms of treatment, the following tabular statement shows almost precisely similar results, averaging 26.256 per cent.:
|Mode of treatment||Total number treated that recovered or died||PERCENTAGE|
|Tonic and stimulant||2,301||25.858||74.142|
This is a more favorable showing than the average of recoveries throughout the course of the plague, but the difference is fully accounted for by the tendency to exaggerate the effects of afavorite mode of treatment, or by the fact that milder cases are selected for trial, and is not deemed to be due to medication.
The commissioners, in their third report, say that “with the widest differences in the modes of treatment, there is hardly any difference in the alleged results, and the natural inference is, that the various drugs employed have produced very little effect.
The effect of dieting is more conclusive and favorable. Out of 503 cases judiciously fed with soft mashes of vegetable food, 381 per cent. recovered; and 813 cases are reported as follows:
|Kind of dieting||Number of cattle||Recoveries, percent|
|1. Cottagers’ cattle, generally fed on mashed foods||95||73.7|
|2. Larger stock, where dry food was often given during convalescence||105||57.5|
|3. Cattle treated with mixed food of mashes and hay||303||22.2|
|4. Cattle fed with dry food, and treated medically with drugs.||310||13.5|
If 73 per cent. of cures could be expected, as in the case of cottagers’ cattle, the plague would be, in a measure, disarmed of its terrors. The cases cited are few in number, occur in comparative isolation, and under a mode of feeding, perhaps better than others calculated to fortify the animal against the attack; and they, may not be relied upon as a fair indication of the effect of such a mode of treatment among large herds. It is scarcely safe to credit this success solely to the mode of feeding, in view of the Scotch test, in large and small stocks, showing that 62 per cent. recovered in 200 cases occurring in stocks of less than thirty, while the recoveries were but 22.2 per cent. in stocks of thirty to eighty cows.
While it is shown that medicine is powerless to cure, and of doubtful value as an aid, even in hopeful cases, it is proved, to the satisfaction of the cattle commission itself, that powerful drugs, of all kinds, heighten the mortality.α
A degree of success was at one time claimed for a modified homeopathic treatment by two Belgian gentlemen, at Mathenesse, near Schiedam, in South Holland. Public expectation in England was excited in consequence, and an experiment was undertaken. Of the result the commissioners write: “Out of the forty-five only one animal seems not to have contracted the disease; of the rest, four recovered, and forty died.”
Concerning the treatment of Mr. Worms, of which so much was boasted, consisting of the administration of assafotida, ginger, onions, and garlic, with liquid food, it is declared that the restriction as to food was probably, the most important part of the treatment, for experience has shown that no reliance can be laced on the drugs alone.
The official report refers to the inhalation of chloroform in favorable terms, without venturing to indorse the treatment until further and more decisive tests are made. The inhalation of oxygen gas is declared useless.
The British commission arrives at the broad conclusion “that in this as in other countries no drug has been found that can be recommended as either an antidote or a palliative,” but that it may, nevertheless, be desirable under stringent regulations, and by the instrumentality of competent persons, to investigate the influence which certain specific ageuts may have on the cause of the disease.”
Inoculation —The official report of Russian experiments relative to the protection of cattle from rinderpest by inoculation was communicated to this department by the Russian minister through the Department of State. These experiments are probably the most extensive and long-continued ever conducted. A digest of this voluminous history will illustrate the difficulties which medical men must encounter in attempting to find a remedy or prevention of this mysterious disease.Experiments of a similar character were initiated, in accordance with the suggestion of Professor Jessen, of Dorpat, in 1852, with results so various and indefinite that the government determined further and more thoroughly to test the virtues of inoculation. Accordingly an appropriation was made of ten thousand roubles annually, for three years, and a committee appointed, on which were Professors Jessen, Rawitch, and Roynoff, with instructions to continue experiments in three established institutions for inoculation. This was in 1858, but active operations did not commence till 1860, and then only at two points in southern Russia—Salmysche and Bondarewka—under the immediate superintendence of Veterinary Surgeon Kobuscheff at the former place, and of Surgeon Sergeeff at the latter These experiments continued through four seasons.
The results, though still various and in some respects conflicting, are interesting and instructive. They show certainly the different degrees of susceptibility in different breeds, and the loss or destruction of the vitality of the virus with age. The wide difference in severity and fatality, noticed in the two series of experiments, is readily suggested by the fact that matter from two to nine months old was principally used at Bondarewka.
At this place in 1860, 58 cattle were inoculated, 9 were very sick,and 3 died. In most of these cases the matter was from five to nine months old. Reinoculation of 37 with fresh matter resulted in the sickness of 5, of which 3 died.
In 1861, 257 were inoculated inside of the institution, and 220 outside. Of the former only 5 were very sick, 177 were slightly ill, 42 had some symptoms of the disease, and but 1 died. About half of those outside had the disease in a mild form. In one experiment two animals were inoculated with slight effect, and afterwards took the disease naturally, notwithstanding inoculation, and both died.
At the arrival of the commissioners in 1863, 295 had already been experimented upon by Veterinary Surgeon Sergeeff, of which 51 had slight symptoms, 136 had some cough and epiphora, 33 remained well, and 75 were not observed by the inoculator.
In three years Sergeeff inoculated 1,028 animals, but used old matter, except in 45 cases, of which 17 took very sick and 4 died. The loss of contagious power in old matter is shown, further, by experiments of the commissioners upon 21 of Sergeeff’s subjects with fresh matter, of which 9 took sick, and 4 died. In another case, 65 head were tried with fresh matter, and 39-were severely affected, and 19 died, an unusual degree of fatality at Bondarewka. Matter from one to nine months old was tried upon 14 animals, all escaping infection; but upon reinoculation with fresh matter 10 became sick and 3 died.
In one experiment two sheep were infected, and matter taken from them was used successfully in infecting six cattle; all were sick, and all but one died.
Inoculated animals were frequently exposed to contagion with impunity, unless in caces [sic] in which the symptoms were comparatively mild.
In 1860, the whole number vaccinated. at Salmysche was 64; 36 took sick after the first inoculation and 13 died; the other 98 were again inoculated of which 16 sickened and 7 died. Of the other 12, 10 were a third time inoculated, and 4 a fourth time, with only one animal in each case slightly affected. Of the whole number, 64, 53 animals were infected, and 20 died. No milder effect. was produced by matter “of the fifth generation.” Of three animals inoculated with matter of the second generation, two were infected and one died, while four animals died out of seven infected with matter of the fifth generation. In most of these experiments, matter over twenty-five days old had no effect.
In 1851 there were 151 inoculated, of which 69 remained well, 39 had slight symptoms of disease, 43 had it severely, and 24 of them died. These 69 and 4 others slightly affected were reinoculated; 43 of which sickened and 17 died. Of 27 inoculated the third and fourth time, 14 took sick and 8 died. In these experiments some that were slightly sick at the first inoculation died as the result of the second.
Some died after the third inoculation. Matter more than nine days old was found inefficient.
In 1862, the third year, there were 51 deaths from 130 infections out of 167 inoculations. It is a noticeable fact that of two breeds, the Baschkir and the Kirgis, less than a fourth of the latter became slightly sick, while about two- thirds of the former experimented upon were infected, and more than one-third of the whole number died.
Of 466 cattle inoculated by Veterinary Surgeon Kobuscheff at Salmysche, partly under supervision of Professor Jessen and Roynoff, from October 1, 1860, to July 5, 1863, 379 were infected, and 148 died. Thus about 80 per cent. of all took the infection, and more than 30 per cent. died.
In the experiments of the commissioners in 1863 are a few noteworthy features. In the fifth experiment, four animals that had been inoculated without effect were left to take the contagion naturally; all became diseased, and three died. In another instance, several animals mildly affected by a former inoculation were inoculated with fresh matter without effect. Again, in several cases, animals that had once had the disease were exposed to contagion with impunity.
Ten sheep were exposed to contagion, and five were inoculated without effect, and they encountered subsequent exposure unharmed.
It will be seen that in one location, and that in which the greater number of fatal cases occurs, ten sheep were entirely unaffected, while at the other station two were inoculated successfully, and matter of extraordinary potency obtained for further experiments upon cattle.
The following is a translation from the journal of the committee of their conclusions upon certain points, in view of the results of their experiments:
1. Is the rinderpest similar to the abdominal typhus of a human being, and
to what degree?
The rinderpest must be considered as a contagious typhus sui generis, as well in its clinical as anatomical pathological appearance, and is very similar to the abdominal typhus of a human being, but different from the same by its rapid course and the constant complication of catarrh in all the mucous membranes.
2. Is there any evidence that the rinderpest has its origin only or principally
in the steppe countries of Russia, and that it was transferred thence to the
other provinces of the country?
The rinderpest was brought from the steppe countries, but the place of its origin is not yet known. Therefore there is no positive evidence on hand to decide this question.
3. Are there any localities in Russia where the rinderpest began spontaneously?
Considering the reports on hand, there are places in the northern part of Russia where the rinderpest was developed by itself, but this assertion is difficult to prove, because no scientific examination has been made in these places concerning this question.
4. Is the rinderpest only contagious by direct contact with the infected animal or through miasmatic propagation?
The rinderpest is contagious as well by direct contact with the sickly or dead animal as by its exhalations.
5. Is the rinderpest alike contagious in all parts of Russia, and is the mortality the same everywhere?
The rinderpest is less contagious in the southern parts of Russia, and less fatal there in comparison with other regions of that country.
6. Does the season influence the contagion of the rinderpest?
The rinderpest is less contagious in summer and winter than in spring and fall.
7. Are certain breeds of cattle:more disposed to rinderpest than others?
Not all breeds are alike disposed to contagion. The. experiments at Salmysche and at Bondarewka have shown that the Kirghis and south steppe breeds are less disposed to contagion than others.
8. Do all cattle of a herd take sick at the outbreak of the rinderpest?
This is the case sometimes in the northern part of Russia, but hardly ever in the southern part.
9. Is the virus of the rinderpest mitigated by successive generations of the
Some cases have been very favorable to mitigation, but the latest experiments have shown that no mitigation of the effect of the virus took, place even in the fifteenth generation. Therefore, in accordance with these results, mitigation of the virus of the rinderpest cannot be expected. (Professor Jessen is against this conclusion.)
10. How long does virus of the rinderpest preserve its power of contagion,
and has old matter the same effect as fresh matter?
The experiments made so far have not produced any positive results in determining the length of time that the virus will preserve its vitality. In some cases the virus lost its effect in several days, but in others it maintained the same after eleven months. It is therefore remarked that the duration of the effect of the virus depends considerably upon the manner of preservation. Experiments have shown, as far as the difference in effect between fresh and old matter is concerned, that inoculation with fresh matter generally causes a severe sickness, but inoculation with old matter a slight illness, and in some cases that it is without any effect.
11. Does inoculation with the rinderpest always preserve the animal from a repeated attack of the plague?
Animals which show strong characteristic marks of the rinderpest after inoculation certainly will not again contract the disease, but those which show light symptoms of the sickness after inoculation are not always safe from a repeated attack.
12. How long can an animal be considered safe after being inoculated?
The results obtained do not render it certain how long this immunity will last; perhaps it will extend through the whole life of the animal, but our experiments only reach up to six years.
Experiments in inoculation with the virus of cattle plague, in England, tend to show that in no degree is the severity of the disease mitigated by transmission of the contagion through the bodies of sheep or. goats, but that repeated transmission of the virus through cattle slightly weakens its power. Practically the attempt to destroy its virulence, or render the system of the ox insusceptible to its influence, has proved a failure.
Disinfection —It is universally conceded that a very important means of prevention is disinfection, or destruction of the animal poison. This poison is constantly discharged from the diseased surfaces, and is also held in suspension in the air; and the disinfectants employed must therefore be both fixed and volatile, and should be harmless in their action upon men and cattle, and sufficiently cheap to make their liberal application practicable. Many substances were tried. Iron in various compounds, zinc, lead, manganese, arsenic, sodium, and lime, lacked volatility; iodine, bromine, and nitrous acid were either injurious or too expensive. The best disinfectants were found to be chlorine, ozone, sulphur, and carbolic and cresylic acids. The chlorine and tar acids, being liquid and æriform, efficient in application to solids or the poisons diffused in the air, were found very advantageous. It is assumed that chlorine and ozone act as oxidizers, destroying the vitality of the contagion; that the sulphurous acid destroys the virus by its antiseptic quality; and that the tar acids, without interrupting oxidation, arrest all fermentative and putrefactive changes, annihilating with equal certainty the germ of infection. Official experiments conducted by William Crookes, F. R. S., tend to show that the tar acids, with sulphur as an occasional agency, furnish the most simple and powerful means of disinfection. The experimenter anticipates valuable results from the use of these antiseptics, about farm buildings, manure heaps, and applied to sewage,β in preventing typhoid fevers, diphtheria, and that class of diseases in man; and asserts that sheep are free from foot rot, and potatoes from disease in tracts of land to which disinfected sewage has been applied.
In the course of the plague multitudes of exemptions from infection are noted, apparently due to disinfectants. In some cases, animals condemned, on the breaking out of disease in the herd, were respited by magistrates and saved, the disinfecting processes being continued. One proprietor using chlorine extensively with his own herd lost none, while tenant farmers upon his estate lost heavily. Similar cases were everywhere reported, and other instances are noted in which such processes were not sufficient to secure the safety of the herd.Legal Means.—The most efficient of all repressive measures was the law of Parliament requiring destruction, with compensation. Local efforts were feeble, conflicting, and utterly unavailing. At first slow, gradually increasing and gathering strength in accelerating ratio, the progress of the disease was at last so fearful as to excite alarm in all classes, and sweep away as cobwebs the strenuously urged objections to so radical an enactment. October 7, more than three months after the disease broke out, 11,300 had been reported. The progress thereafter was as follows:
The effect of the law is well illustrated by reference to the great cattle counties of Yorkshire and Cheshire, which suffered terribly. There was more or less laxity in enforcing the law in the several counties. In Yorkshire, where greater strictness prevailed, the decline was most rapid:
|Fresh attacks||Killed||Fresh attacks||Killed|
|Before the act|
|After the act|
The decrease in the number of attacks has been regular since April 21. The number for the week ending June 23 was 400; July 28, 210; August 25, 160; September 29, 43; October 13, 11. The disease is now nearly extinct. The total number of officially reported attacks in the first year, ending in the third week of June, was 251,150.
There will be danger, for several months, of the reappearance of the disease, as in 1757, after twelve years of death and slaughter, when Layard wrote: “The disease, thank God, is considerably abated, and only breaks out now and then in such places where, for want of proper cleansing after the infection, or carelessness in burying the carcasses, the putrid forms are still preserved, and are ready, at a proper constitution of the air, or upon being uncovered, to disperse such a quantity of effluvia that all the cattle which have not had it will be liable to infection.”
The success of legal measures of repression in Great Britain was foreshadowed by the result of voluntary local law. In several instances early in the season of the plague, the farmers of the county of Aberdeen, in Scotland, watchful and provident, early sought to protect themselves and repel the invader. An association was formed, participated in by all of the parishes, eighty-four in number, and a voluntary assessment of one penny per pound of the agricultural rental was made, collected at once, and four-fifths of the sum actually realized as a fund with which to compensate for animals killed. When the plague did come, the first animal infected in a herd was slaughtered before the sickness had progressed. If a second attack occurred the whole herd was immediately slaughtered. The disease appeared in seven different centres, but so thorough was the destruction that the county was cleared of the pest before the coming of winter, with the loss of but three hundred and six animals, averaging, large and small together, a cost of £10 per head.
The English people, slow to ask for restrictions of commerce, especially in food products, (and cattle particularly, of which from 5,000 to 10,000 are imported weekly,) suffered much from the hesitating, dilatory, and irregular policy of the government. Orders in council were issued from time to time regulating the movement of cattle, and prescribing various police details, the result of which was to circumscribe the powers of the inspectors, to enlarge those of local, authorities, and finally to replace the latter by new local authorities, with a new sphere of jurisdiction; and between the several local authorities there proved to be no concert of action, and little prevention of disease. The Economist thus accounts for its rapid diffusion: “You could not persuade the English people to hurt themselves so much until the evil was apparent. When the disease had reached their own’ locality, when it got pretty near, when it had killed half the cattle ‘of a county off, then the sluggish mass of common Englishmen would be roused and awake; but not till then. Even the distant calamities of great magnitude would not move them to the constant exertion, the perpetual watching, the diffused and never-resting care which would be needful; and as the disease now is, when its ravages were a matter of figures, and but a small matter, you might as well expect aid from the English cattle as from the English peasantry or the smaller English farmer.”
The plague still continued its ravages, the government as well as people became alarmed, and a law was enacted, based upon the idea of crushing out the infection by wholesale destruction of infested herds, with partial compensation to owners.
The existing act, as finally perfected, is of great length, and a brief synopsis of its provisions must suffice. It provides for the slaughter by the local authorities of all animals affected with the cattle plague, and for compensation to the owners equal to two-thirds of the value of each animal, not to exceed £20. Every dead or slaughtered animal must be buried in its skin, covered with quicklime or other disinfectant, and not less than six feet deep of earth. Very minute and thorough provisions secure the cleaning and disinfection of premises and clothing of attendants, and prevent the introduction of other animals for thirty days. Local authorities are empowered to require the slaughtering of exposed animals, if they see fit, and may allow the owners to sell the meat, and shall pay for the animal if the owner prefers not to dispose of it himself, such sum, not exceeding £25, as may equal three-fourths of its value. It provides also for compensation for slaughtering by any inspector, under authority of prior enactments of August and September, 1865. It prohibits all markets, fairs, auctions, exhibitions or public sales of cattle, except markets, for the sale of animals intended for immediate slaughter. Stringent regulations are required in all markets in the metropolis, to prevent the removal of cattle.
Part second requires every person having an infected animal to give notice to the local authorities, and to keep it separate from others, and forbids its removal from the premises, its exposure for sale, or its passing along a public highway, common, or unenclosed forest or other land.
It provides that the compensation and medical expenses shall be defrayed, two-thirds out of the local rate, and one-third from a special cattle rate, which may be levied at any interval of time not less than three months, and in amount not exceeding five shillings per head for all cattle one year old and upwards. The tenant of a farm may deduct from his rent half the amount of his rate.
The law provides relative to infected places—
1. That no cattle shall be moved out of or into an infected place, or along any highway within an infected place.
2. No hides, horns, hoofs, or other parts of cattle shall be removed from an infected place, unless with a license from some officer, appointed in that behalf by the local authority, certifying that such articles have not formed part of an animal afflicted by cattle plague, and have been properly disinfected, if necessary.
3. No dung of cattle, and no hay, straw, litter, or other articles that have been
used, in or about cattle, shall be removed from an infected place. And any
local authority may make orders as to the shutting up of dogs in an infected
place, and the destruction of stray dogs found within or coming out of the same.
As to the movement of cattle, it requires all imported animals to be marked by clipping the hair off the end of the tail, and no animal so marked may be moved from the port of landing alive; and provides that no cattle shall be moved, except by railway, after sunset and before sunrise, except within the limits of the metropolis; that no animal shall be taken into any district in opposition to the prohibition of its local authorities; or at any time between sunset and sunrise be put on a railway.
It authorizes local authorities to prohibit or impose restrictions or conditions
on the introduction or removal of—
1. Any specified description of animals, excepting for a distance not exceeding two hundred yards, from part to part of the same farm.
2. Raw or untanned hides or skins, horns, hoofs, or offal of animals, or of any specified description thereof, except hides, skins, horns, or hoofs imported into the United Kingdom from India, Australia, South Africa, or America.
3. Hay, straw, litter, or other articles that have been used in or about animals.
In Russia the police regulations are very strict. On the breaking out of an epizootic immediate notifications of the police authorities are enforced, and the sheriff, with a politico-medical officer, a veterinary surgeon, repairs at once to the spot. The medical officer, after examinations, living and post mortem, defines the extent and nature of the disease, reports the facts to the local authorities, giving information of the number and breeds of the animals in the district. The local. police then direct the adoption of measures of prevention. In villages within the jurisdiction of the department of crown lands, the rural police are assisted by the local department authorities.
If these local measures are not effectual, the chiefs of provinces, upon consultation with the members or inspector of the medical court, or committee of public health, devise other and more stringent means. Of the appearance, mode of treatment, and final disappearance of the disease, the minister of the interior is fully advised.
Among the preventive means adopted in cases of cattle plague are the following: Separation from healthy cattle. Shepherds and cattle-feeders are not allowed to visit infected places. Purchases of cattle, milk, hides, or tallow, in infected districts, to be carried to healthy places, are forbidden. Persons attending diseased cattle must wash their hands in a solution of potash and vinegar, and change their clothes before approaching healthy cattle. When dead animals are removed in carts drawn by horses, care must be taken that no liquid matter is dropped. Neither skin, horns, nor hoofs may be removed from a dead animal, which must be buried deeply, far from dwellings of man and feeding-places of cattle, in open rather than wooded spaces, where they may not be liable to be dug up by wolves or other animals.
In the Netherlands, provision has been made by law for the prohibition of importation and transit of cattle and the holding of cattle markets, and regulations have been established relating to the sale, treatment, and disinfection of living or dead cattle, meat, hides, hair, wool, dung, and other offal. Any animal removed and sold, to evade the provisions of the law, may be seized and confiscated, and punishment by fine of 26 to 500 florins, and imprisonment for eight days to three months, are penalties of its transgression. A liberal indemnification is made for all animals slaughtered by order if the disease has been made known by the proprietor himself.
Stringent regulations are enforced by law in Prussia. Medical treatment is forbidden, as also the recommending and publicly advertising of remedies.
Legal measures, various in character and complete in details as experience and practical wisdom are able to suggest, are also enforced in France, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Baden, and by other (and probably all) governments of Europe.
It would be strange if America should escape the visitation many years. Cholera, arising in the east, has traversed Asia and continental Europe, leaped the North sea, and. passed the ocean barriers repeatedly. Diphtheria and other subtle animal poisons have begn disseminated over islands and continents. Deadly murrains have decimated or destroyed the herds of all nations in all ages. Apparently new forms of disease appear occasionally, destroying particular genera of animals, while others escape unscathed. This cattle plague is not altogether new in Europe, having been traced back, by characteristic manifestations, a thousand years and more, during which time at least six separate outbreaks in Britain are chronicled. America has never yet been visited, so far as is known, but who can guarantee continued immunity?
When the red men roamed the forest alone, they were free from European infectious diseases. That exemption ceased with the landing of the colonists at Jamestown, and the arrival of the Mayflower in Massachusetts bay. Our cattle have hitherto been subject, in a limited degree, to occasional epizootic outbreaks, in their comparative isolation and freedom from disease-producing influences. Importations of foreign cattle are fortunately prohibited, yet infection may come at any moment, wafted by the winds of commerce, in a bale of wool, a bag of rags, a bundle of hides, a package of horns, a crate of crockery, or in a single straw, or in the clothing of a herdsman, for it has been proved that the infection can live and multiply after many months of rest.
And if it comes, what shall hinder its sweeping the country, and destroying as many millions of dollars as would suffice to connect the Mississippi and the Hudson by a ship canal that should be ample for the transportation of the products of a continent? We have had one warning. Pleuro-pneumonia, which has ravaged portions of Europe during the past half century, was a few years since introduced into Massachusetts; and but for the prompt and vigorous action of the legislature of that State, by which diseased and exposed animals were slaughtered and the disease thus “stamped out,” the losses of cattle-owners might have been many millions of money, if not millions of cattle.
But a worse than the pleuro-pneumonia is the rinderpest. In some countries the recoveries do not exceed five per cent., and (if it is not a witticism) a portion of those which recover ultimately die before they reach the butcher. Lancisi, a great Italian writer, declared that the cures spread the disease. When this disease approaches, the knife is the proper medicine, arterial bleeding the only radical cure; yet there would be hesitation here as elsewhere, and delay and paltering with remedies. Already a dozen have been proposed in advance, and a score of ridiculous theories of its nature and cure propounded; and some have recognized its actual outbreak in Pennsylvania, and others again in Kentucky. American nature is human nature, and cattle plague history would again repeat itself. As in 1750, the sixth year of the fourth visitation, which lasted twelve years in England, when people complained that the sick beasts were not killed soon enough, there would be loud outcries against the dangerous dilatoriness or reckless cupidity that hoped for cures while spreading infection. As then, after years of killing and saving, and the lamentation that “Cheshire might have saved 6,000 if the farmer at Elton had killed his cattle,” there would be the same mistaken mercy mingled with wholesome severity, the same concealments and hesitation, similar declarations of the incurability of the disease and the folly of treatment, and after all, at the last record of the eventful history it would be written of some Doctor Jones or Veterinary Smith, that “a never-failing remedy had been discovered.” Thus “hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and the dire plague “never is, but always to be” cured.
Great Britain has enacted a stringent and effectual law, which effectually set a barrier to the regular weekly increase of attacks, and secured a constant and rapid decline of the disease. The Congress of the United States would pass no similar law for killing and compensating by wholesale. The matter has already been broached among members of Congress, and State rights have stood as a lion in the way. The subject is referred to the several States, as a matter of domestic and local concern; and here would be one great danger in the ease of an outbreak in this country. Thirty-six States would have thirty-six separate and diverse laws on the subject, but for the fact that half of them would have none at all, at least for the first year or two, or until the infection was almost remedilessly spread throughout their borders.
Then if the railroad system of England, with its systematic-vigilance and watchful care, is the means of extending the disease, what reeking infection might not be conveyed on our uncleaned cattle trucks and uncared-for railway cattle pens.
Scarcely a government in Europe has neglected to enact laws for arresting
the spread of this fatal disease. These laws commonly have the following
1. To make it the legal duty of the stock-owner to give the earliest notice of its approach.
2. To arm either the local authorities or the executive with power to isolate or slaughter herds.
3. To make pecuniary compensation for animals slaughtered.
4. To provide a supply of competent veterinary surgeons.
It is urgently suggested, in conclusion, that State legislatures take up, at the earliest possible moment, the question of permanent general enactments, applicable to all virulent, infectious, or contagious diseases, and pass such laws as the security of farm stock within the several States may require. Massachusetts has already an efficient law of this character.
*The commission consisted of Earl Spencer, Viscount Cranborne, Councillor Robert Lowe, Dr. Lyon Playfair, C. B., Clare Sewell Read, M.P., Henry Bence Jones, M.D., Richard Quain, M.D., Edmund Alexander Parkes, M.D., and Messrs. John Robinson M Clean, Thomas Wormald, Robert Ceery, and Charles Spooner.
ψThe report of the Aberdeenshire Rinderpest Association claims that it was clearly established that the disease was not brought to any of the infected herds by cattle, and the evidence was nearly as conclusive that it could not have been communicated by individuals. In support of the theory that it was communicated through the air, it is stated that all these points were in a line, the nearest fifteen miles, the most remote forty miles distant from a hotbed of the disease, in a neighboring county, from which a strong wind of high temperature was blowing at the right period to allow the usual time for the incubation of the disease.
αThe minister of the interior of Holland, in his report upon the cattle plague, says: "No mode of treatment has hitherto proved itself advantageous over any other, Veterinary practitioners Seem to have found the greatest benefit from mineral acids, from quinine, and from carbolic acid, A favorable issue depends, according to them, in a great measure on the care with which the beasts are tended, on cleanliness, and fresh air.” Similar statements are made by officials in various European countries.
β The contents of sewers are beginning to be extensively used in England for farm irrigation.