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Category: Diseases and their Remedies

Diseases of this class have the same relation to the inferior animals
that epidemic diseases have to man. Of course, they assume a very
pestilential character. Scarcely a year passes away without diseases of
this nature making their appearance in some parts of the world. They
occur at all seasons of the year, but more generally prevail in the
spring and fall. The period of their duration varies from months to
years. They are, at times, mild in their attacks, and yield readily to
proper treatment; at other times, they become painful pestilences,
destroying every thing in their course.

The causes are generally sought for in some peculiar condition of the
atmosphere. The use of the milk and flesh of diseased cattle has
frequently been productive of malignant diseases in the human family.

Silius Italicus describes a fearful epizooetic, which first attacked the
dog, then the feathered biped, then horses, and cattle, and, last of
all, the human being.

"On mules and dogs the infection first began,
And, last, the vengeful arrows fixed in man."

Epizooetics, occurring in rats, cats, dogs, horses, and cattle, which
were followed in the succeeding years by more fearful ones which
attacked the human family, are numerously recorded. These scourges have
appeared in all ages of the world; but, as time and space will not allow
our entering upon an extended consideration of them,--however
interesting they might be to the general reader,--we shall content
ourselves by quoting, somewhat in brief, from the lectures of the late
William Youatt on these fatal maladies:--

"In the year 801, and at the commencement of the reign of Charlemagne,
an epidemic disease devastated a great portion of his dominions. This
was attributed to the villainy of the Duke of Benevento, who was said to
have employed a great many persons in scattering an enchanted powder
over the fields, which destroyed both the cattle and the food of the
cattle. M. Paulet seems inclined to give full credence to this, and says
that history offers many proofs of this destructive and diabolical
practice. He affirms that many persons were punished in Germany,
France, and, particularly, at Toulouse, for the commission of this
crime. Several of the suspected agents of these atrocities were put to
the torture and made full confession of their crime.

"Of the occurrence of these diseases from the year 800 to 1316,--an
interval of mental darkness, and of horrors and calamities of every
kind,--history records twenty cases, more or less destructive, and
extending, with greater or less devastation, over France and Germany,
Italy and England. Of these twenty, four date their origin from an
excessive moisture in the air, accompanied by almost continual rains,
and flooding the country to a considerable extent. One was supposed to
be the consequence of long-continued drought and excessive heat; one was
traced to the influence of an eclipse of the sun; another, to a comet;
and a fourth, to a most unusually stormy winter. The reader will have
the kindness to remember that we are here expressing the opinions of the
writers of the day, and by no means, our own belief of the matter.

"Of the four which trace their origin to extreme wet and its
consequences, the first occurred in France, in 820, after a long
continuance of rain; and it was equally fatal to men and cattle. The
second, which was equally fatal to both, appeared in Lorraine, in 889.
The third broke out among the cavalry of the army of Arnoul, in its
passage over the Alps, on its return to Italy. The fourth pervaded the
whole of England in 1125, and was equally fatal to the biped and the

"That which followed excessive heat and drought, was generally prevalent
throughout Europe, but especially so in Germany. It attacked oxen,
sheep, and pigs. It appeared in 994, and lasted six months.

"The one which was attributed to the comet, and which principally
attacked cattle, appeared in France in 943 Almost every animal perished.

"Another, that was supposed to be connected with an eclipse of the sun,
was prevalent throughout the greater part of Germany, among men and
animals, in 989.

"The disease, which was the consequence of a cold and boisterous winter,
was principally prevalent in France, in 887, and committed sad ravages
among the herds of cattle and sheep.

"Of the twelve others, of which, authors do not indicate the cause, the
first was in France, in 810, and principally among cattle. The second
was also in France, in 850, and almost depopulated the country of
cattle. The third, in 868, was common to all animals in France. The
fourth, in 870, was in the same country, and caused severe loss among
cattle. The fifth prevailed on the Rhine and in Germany, and destroyed
an almost incalculable number of cattle. The sixth attacked the horses
of the army of Arnoul in Lorraine, in 888. The seventh, in 940,
destroyed a vast number of cattle in France, Italy, and Germany. The
eighth and ninth were in France, in 941 and 942, and almost all the
cattle in the country perished. The tenth pestilence broke out in
England, in the year 1041, and frightful was its devastation among all
animals, and, particularly, horned cattle. The eleventh also devastated
our country, in 1103, and the ravages were dreadful. The twelfth was
chiefly fatal in Germany, and particularly in Gueldres, in 1149.

"These twenty pestilences occurred in the space of 506 years. Five or
six of them were most prevalent among cattle; two were almost confined
to horses; twelve included, to a greater or less degree, almost every
species of quadrupeds; and four extended to the human being. Among these
the ravages of eight were most destructive in France; as many in
Germany; and four in Italy and England.

"As far as we have hitherto proceeded, it will also appear that cattle
are more subject to these diseases than any other species of
domesticated animals, and that the pestilence is always most fearful
among them. It is also evident that the maladies which proceed from cold
or humidity are more frequent in the temperate and southern parts of
Europe than those which depend upon drought, or almost any other cause.

"The malady lingers in different countries, in proportion to its want of
power to accomplish at once all its devastation.

"After this time, there are few satisfactory accounts of these diseases
for more than five centuries. We only know that, occasionally suspending
their ravages,--or, rather, visiting new districts when they had ceased
to desolate others--they have continued to be objects of terror and
instruments of devastation, even unto the present day; and it is only
within a few years that they have been really understood, and have
become, to a certain degree, manageable."

In the United States, epizooetic diseases have been of frequent
occurrence; but, owing to the want of properly qualified veterinary
surgeons, they have not, until within a very recent period, been
properly described or understood. The day however, is fast approaching
when this void will be filled, and when epizooetic and other diseases
will be correctly noted and recorded. The necessity for this must have
been forcibly impressed upon the minds of the inhabitants of our country
from the experience of the last ten or twelve years.

Respecting the late epizooetic among cattle in Portage County, Ohio,
William Pierce, V.S., of Ravenna, thus describes the symptoms as they
appeared, in a letter to the author: "A highly-colored appearance of the
sclerotic coat of the eye, also of the conjunctiva (a lining membrane
of the eyelid) and the Schneiderian membrane of the nose; a high animal
heat about the head and horns; a highly inflammatory condition of the
blood; contraction of all the abdominal viscera; hurried respiration;
great prostration and nervous debility; lameness; followed by gangrene
of the extremity of the tail, and the hind-feet; terminating in
mortification and death."

Mr. Pierce is convinced that these symptoms are produced by the
continued use of the ergot, or spur of the June grass,--the effects
being similar to those produced upon the human family by long-continued
use of ergot of rye. This disease assumes both an acute and chronic

The same gentleman also says: "Ordinary observers, as well as those who
claim to be scientific, have entertained very conflicting opinions as to
its general character; some regarding it as epizooetic, others as
contagious; some attributing it to atmospheric influence, others to
foulings in the stable or yard. Others, again, attribute it to freezing
of the feet in winter. Cattle-doctors in a majority of cases, fail to
cure it. I have, however, by a simple course of treatment, effected
many signal cures. Some parties are so confident of the contagious
character of the disease that they refuse to drive cattle along a road
where it is known to exist. They even, oftentimes, wash their boots
previous to entering their barnyards, after walking over the ground
where such diseased cattle have been running.

"Caution is both proper and commendable. I do not, however, regard it as
a contagious disease, nor can it be transmitted by inoculation. The calf
is carried during the progress of the disease, and delivered in
apparently good health. The milk of the cow appears to be unaffected and
harmless. I call this disease sphacial fever, or gangrenous fever.

"The ergot, or spur of the hay, is confined to the June grass, as far as
my observation extends; owing, probably, to its early maturity. Most
other kinds of grass are cut before the seeds have matured sufficiently
to produce the spur. I was suspicious of the foulness of the feed before
I examined any hay, and have found the spur in the hay wherever the
disease is found.

"Mr. Sanford, of Edinburgh, Ohio, purchased one half of a mow of hay
from Mr. Bassett, of Randolph, which was removed to his farm in
Randolph, eight miles distant. Of this hay, Mr. Sanford fed eleven cows
some six or eight weeks. Mr. Bassett had been feeding the same to four
cows. At about the same time, both heads began to show lameness. I
visited Mr. S. after he had lost six cows, and examined the remaining
five, four of which were lame and the other showed symptoms of the
disease. He had two other cows, one of which was loaned to a neighbor,
and the other was fed upon different hay, for convenience. The loaned
cow was returned about the first of March,--the two then running with
the ailing ones until the 24th of April, when I saw them sound and in
good health.

"I then visited Mr. Bassett's stock, which I found infected with the
same disease,--he having lost one, and the remaining three being lame,
and much debilitated. The hoofs were sloughing off. Some of the same hay
remained in the snow, which, upon examination, exhibited an abundance of
the spur. Upon inquiry, I found that no such disease existed between the
two farms, or in the neighborhood of either Mr. S. or Mr. B. The
peculiarity of this circumstance at once swept away the last vestige of
doubt from my mind. Mr. E. Chapman, of Rootstown, accompanied me, and
can vouch for the correctness of these statements.

"He hooted at my opinions, asserting that he understood the disease, and
that it was caused by the freezing of the feet. He has since, however,
abandoned that idea, and honestly 'acknowledged the corn.' This ergot is
regarded by some as a parasitic fungus, formed in other grains, an
abundant vegeto-animal substance, and much disposed to putrefaction. We
appear to be in the dark regarding its real composition. The little
which has been written upon the subject, appears to be founded upon
hypothesis, and that the most obscure. The articles to which I refer may
differ in quality or property to a considerable extent, and we may
forever remain in the dark, unless chemical investigation be instituted.

"In this particular disease, there appears to be singularity in the
symptoms through all its various stages, which is likely to originate in
the peculiarity of the cause which produces them. The effects and
symptoms arising from the continued use of the ergot of rye, as
manifested in the human system, have been but briefly hinted at by
authors, and, probably, some of them are only reasonable conjectures.
All they say is, that it produces violent headache, spaculation in the
extremities, and death. Hitherto, its effects upon the inferior animal
have been subjected to no investigation, and its peculiarity in the
symptoms, differing from like phenomena by other causes, may yet be
demonstrated. I am not alone in my opinion of this disease. I have taken
counsel of those whose judgment cannot be questioned. Whatever
difference of opinion exists is attributable to a want of investigation,
and it will continue to exist until this singular phenomenon is clearly
accounted for. Every opinion should be thoroughly criticized till facts
are obtained. Every man's opinion is sacred to himself, but we should
yield to conviction.

"Two classes of this disease are exhibited: one, of irritation, and the
other, of debility; one, an acute, the other, a chronic form. The point
at which it assumes the chronic form is between congestion and
gangrene. By close observation we can discover these to be different and
higher degrees of the same disease. All subsequent degrees are dependent
upon the first.

"The first symptom, or degree, is, probably, an attack upon the
systematic circulation, produced by a certain medicinal and deleterious
property existing in the ergot, and communicated to the blood through
the absorption of the tongue. This is more evident from the fact that
the digestive organs retain their normal condition till the last stages
of the chronic form. The blood in the first two stages is healthy, and
the peculiar influence is only apparent in the subsequent stages; as
evidenced by the fact that the muscles and general good appearance, as
well as life itself, last longer than could be possible, if this
deleterious influence were exhausted upon the digestive organs and the
blood, in its first stages. And, as we suppose that fever and congestion
constitute an attack upon the red blood, which is exhibited by hurried
pulsation, we might rationally infer that the next degree would be
gangrene of the globule, causing sloughing, the same as if it were
carried to the muscles, or surface. This sloughing of the globule would
be the same as if exhibited on any other part of the organization, for
the fibrin is identical with muscle, as albumen is identical with the
white of an egg; and since congestion is the forerunner of gangrene at
the extremities, or on the surface, so fever and quick pulsation are the
forerunners of congestion of the blood. Gangrene cannot ensue without
obstruction in the blood-vessels; and congestion cannot take place
without obstruction in that which sustains the globule. As gangrene,
then, is the first stage of decomposition of animal matter, so is
congestion the first stage of decomposition of the globule; and as
mortification is death in the organized body, so is congestion death in
the organized globule.

"It appears evident that this disease, in all its forms and degrees of
intensity, seeks vent or release; in other words, Nature conflicting
with it, throws it off its track, or balance, and offers means of
escape, or shows it a door by which it may make its exit. In the first
stage of the disease, the dermoid (skin) tissues make the effort. In the
inflammatory, the serous, and the congestive, the mucous gangrene seeks
vent; if obtained, mortification is prevented; if not, mortification
directly supervenes, and death terminates the case.

"In the case to which I refer, observation confirms my opinion that
absolute mortification without vent determines the gangrene of the
blood, and is hardly curable; but that gangrene's finding vent
determines it to be curable, and the recovery highly probable."

Next: Epizooetic Catarrh

Previous: Enteritis

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