The Diagnosis of Glanders

The Diagnosis of Glanders

EDITORIAL ARTICLES. 35 1 central authority, for no one can doubt that had local authorities been left to cope with the invasion their efforts would ...

244KB Sizes 0 Downloads 10 Views

EDITORIAL ARTICLES.

35 1

central authority, for no one can doubt that had local authorities been left to cope with the invasion their efforts would have been as abortive as they were on the last occasion of the same kind. The credit of the recent victory is due in equal degree to the veterinary officers of the Board of Agriculture, who advised the measures that have proved so successful, and to the President of the Board, who is responsible for the inflexible manner in which these measures were carried out. It may be said that what has been done once can, in similar circumstances, be done again, and that there is little reason to fear that foot - and - mouth disease will ever again over-run this country as it did between 1877 and 1885. But it. must not be forgotten that the policy of the Board of Agriculture in dealing with the recent invasion was vigorously assailed on the very point that in all probability was most essential to success, and that on another occasion the President of the Board might prove less unyielding. We allude to the effort that was made to discredit the action of the Board in declaring large infected areas. Had effect been given to the representations that were made on that point by certain local authorities, there is little room to doubt that the disease would have defied all attempts to hold it in check, just as it has done and is now doing in several continental states. The recent experience has proved that footand-mouth disease, notwithstanding its highly infectious nature, can be stamped out even when it has attained a fair start of suppressive measures, but the risk of failure is so obvious as to make it desirable to take every possible precaution to guard against a re-introduction of the disease. Until recently it was generally supposed that there was little or no danger of the disease being brought to this country so long as the importation of live animals was prohibited from countries in which the disease was known to exist, but the circumstances connected with the appearance of the disease in London and Edinburgh in February last, and more recently in Denmark, lend some colour to the suggestion that the before-mentioned precaution is insufficient, and that the contagium of the affection may be indirectly conveyed from one country to another in imported articles such as hay or hides. The Board of Agriculture has proved itself a true Institute of Preventive Medicine; it has set an example which other countries would do well to follow, and in its own success it has the best encouragement to enter upon a struggle with some of the remaining animal plagues.

THE DIAGNOSIS OF GLANDERS.

THAT it is often very difficult to arrive at an intra vitam diagnosis of glanders is a fact that will be readily admitted by everyone who has had much experience of the disease. This difficulty makes itself most felt in large studs in which glanders has obtained a firm footing.

35 2

EDITORIAL ARTICLES.

There are, unfortunately, at the present time many such studs in London, in which the annual losses, heavy though they are, are only kept from becoming ruinous by a careful system of supervision and inspection, under which every suspected horse is either killed or removed to an isolation stable. It might be supposed that if this method were consistently carried out, and combined with frequent disinfection, it would soon eradicate the disease from any stable; but, as a matter of fact, it seldom has that effect in large studs, and the reasons for this failure are not far to seek. The first-and probably this is the least important-is that there is considerable risk of importing fresh cases in an incipient stage in purchasing new animals to replenish the stud. A much more potent factor in the case is the difficulty at any given moment of picking out the horses in whose system the germs of the disease have already found a lodgment. In recognising a pronounced case of glanders or farcy even a tyro has no difficulty, but in quite an important proportion of cases the course of glanders, at least in its early stages, is not attended with symptoms that are at all pathognomonic, while as regards external or visible lesions there may be none. Sooner or later the infected horse will no doubt develop symptoms that will attract attention and warrant either suspicion or a positive diagnosis. But before that happens the mischief that perpetuates the disease may have been effected, for the horse may have infected one or more of his companions in the same stable. There is no need to discuss here the refined aids to diagnosis that find mention in text-books. The inoculation of nasal discharge to a donkey, dog, or guinea-pig is, no doubt, an excellent means of fortifying diagnosis, but such methods are quite impracticable in this country on the part of the general practitioner. Not to mention the fact that there may be no nasal discharge with which to inoculate, the so-called Vivisection Act is an almost insuperable barrier to such experimental inoculations. Then, again, the search for the bacillus of glanders by way of culture, or even by microscopic examination of an extirpated gland, is a feasible laboratory method of diagnosis, but it cannot be seriously recommended to the practical veterinarian who has had no bacteriological training. But if the numerous reports already published regarding mallein are to be credited, there will in the future be little or no difficulty in detecting glanders even in the most occult cases. On the ground of a great number of experiments, it is claimed for this substance that it is a marvellously reliable agent for the detection of the disease. That it will prove perfect is hardly to be expected. Indeed the reports already available show that it does occasionally fail to set up the febrile reaction that is indicative of glanders, and its employment may in rare cases be followed by a reaction in horses that are not glandered, but there are grounds for hoping that these cases of

EDITORIAL ARTICLES.

353

failure or error in action are not so frequent as to raise an actual barrier to its use. I t has recently been urged on behalf of the horse-owners in London that the Board of Agriculture ought to take into its own hands the work of exterminating glanders. It is supposed that the disease might be stamped out, (I) if the slaughter of all glandered or farcied horses, and of all horses suspected of being the subjects of glanders or farcy, were made compulsory; (2) if notification of glanders or suspicion of glanders were made compulsory on owners, persons in charge of horses, and veterinary surgeons; and (3) if compensation (out of money voted by Parliament for the purpose) were given for horses compulsorily slaughtered as diseased or suspected. It is very likely that such measures as these would soon effect a great reduction in the number of cases of glanders, and if they were supplemented by the systematic employment of mallein in infected stables, so as to discover animals with the virus developing in them, actual extermination of the disease within a year or two might reasonably be expected. But it is by no means certain that the Board of Agriculture will take the steps recommended. The suppression of glanders is much less a national question than was that of pleuropneumonia; it is hardly even an agricultural question, and on that account the chances of its being taken up by the Board of Agriculture are so much the less. No doubt the mere prospect of compulsory slaughter and compensation will have a sedative rather than a stimulant effect on private effort, but it might be worth the while of some of the companies who have heavy annual losses from glanders to consider whether it would not pay them to grapple seriously with the disease themselves. Assuming that mallein may be relied upon to point out the already affected horses, the plan of action that would soon clear any stable of glanders is clear. The first step towards rooting out the disease would be costly in the case of studs that are at present seriously contaminated, but in the end it would no doubt be profitable. But whether the stamping out of glanders is to be left to public or private effort, it is evident that the employment of mallein is likely to play an important role in the process.