1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agriculture/The Diseases of Animals

The Diseases of Animals.

Under the Diseases of Animals Acts 1894 and 1896 weekly returns are issued by the Board of Agriculture of outbreaks of anthrax, foot-and-mouth disease, glanders (including farcy), pleuro-pneumonia, rabies and swine fever in the counties of Great Britain; also monthly returns of outbreaks of sheep-scab. Cattle plague, or rinderpest, has not been recorded in Great Britain since 1877. In that year there were 47 outbreaks distributed over five counties and involving 263 head of cattle.

The course of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain between 1877 and 1905 inclusive is told in Table XX., from which the years 1887 to 1891, 1895 to 1899 and 1903 to 1905 inclusive are omitted, because there was no outbreak during those periods. The disease is seen to have attained its maximum virulence in 1883.

Table XX.—Outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Great Britain,
1877–1905.

 Year.  Counties.

Out
breaks.

Animals attacked.

Cattle. Sheep. Swine. Other
Animals.
1877 55 858 5,640 7,405 2,099
1878 45 235 912 8,609 245
1879 29 137 261 15,681 5
1880 38 1,461 20,918 9,572 1,886 2
1881 49 4,833 59,484 117,152 6,330 80
1882 49 1,970 23,973 11,412 2,564 1
1883 75 18,732 219,289 217,492 24,332 32
1884 55 949 12,186 14,174 1,860 1
1885 10 30 354 34 30
1886 1 1 10
1892 15 95 1,248 3,412 107
1893 2 2 30
1894 3 3 7 261
1900 9 21 214 50 2
1901 3 12 43 626
1902 1 1 2 118

Sheep-scab is a loathsome skin disease due to an acarian parasite. Table XXI. shows the number of outbreaks and the number of counties over which they were distributed from 1877 to 1905. The recorded outbreaks were more numerous in the decade of the ’nineties than in that of the ’eighties, though possibly this may have been due to greater official activity in the later period. The largest number of sheep attacked was 68,715 (in 1877).

Table XXI.—Outbreaks of Sheep-Scab in Great Britain,
1877–1905.

 Year.  Counties. Outbreaks.  Year.  Counties. Outbreaks.
1877 77 3214 1890 75 1506
1880 70 1556 1895 88 3092
1885 69 1512 1900 78 1939
      1905 73 918

It is compulsory on owners to notify the authorities as to the existence of scab amongst their sheep. By the Diseases of Animals Act (1903) powers to prescribe the dipping of sheep, irrespective of the presence or otherwise of sheep scab, were conferred upon the Board of Agriculture. An inspector of the board or of the local authority was by the same act authorized to enter premises and examine sheep. Each year the disorder runs a similar course, the outbreaks dwindling to a minimum in the summer months, June to August, and attaining a maximum in the winter months, December to February. It is chiefly in the “flying” flocks and not in the breeding flocks that the disease is rife, and it is so easily communicable that a drove of scab-infested sheep passing along a road may leave behind them traces sufficient to set up the disorder in a drove of healthy sheep that may follow. For its size and in relation to its sheep population Wales harbours the disease to a far greater extent than the other divisions of Great Britain. The fatal disease known as anthrax did not form the subject of official returns previous to the passing of the Anthrax Order of 1886. Isolated outbreaks are of common occurrence, and from the totals for Great Britain given in Table XXII. it would appear that there is little prospect of the eradication of this bacterial disorder.

Glanders (including farcy) was the subject during the twenty four years 1877–1900 of outbreaks in Great Britain ranging between a minimum of 518 in 1877 and a maximum of 1657 in 1892; in the former year 758 horses were attacked, and in the latter 3001. A recrudescence of the disease marked the closing years of the 19th century, the outbreaks having been 748 in 1898, 853 in 1899 and 1119 in 1900. The counties of Great Britain over which the annual outbreaks have been distributed have ranged between 24 in 1890 and 52 in 1879. As a matter of fact, however, the disease is strongly centred upon the metropolitan area, more than half of the outbreaks being reported from the County of London alone.

Table XXII.—Outbreaks of Anthrax in Great Britain,
1895–1905.

 Year.   Counties.   Outbreaks. 

Animals attacked.

 Cattle.   Sheep.   Swine.   Horses. 
1895 66 434 604 158 140 32
1896 64 488 632 34 200 38
1897 67 433 521 39 284 38
1898 73 556 634 22 161 39
1899 67 534 634 69 253 30
1900 74 571 668 40 204 44
1901 63 651 708 76 152 35
1902 71 678 746 50 192 44
1903 78 767 809 48 234 51
1904 77 1049 1115 62 365 47
1905 84 970 1001 53 210 53

The Rabies order was passed in 1886, and the number of counties in Great Britain in which cases of rabies in dogs were reported in each, subsequent year is shown in Table XXIII. In addition there have been some cases of rabies in animals other than dogs. The disease was very rife in 1895, but the extensive application of the muzzling restrictions of the Board of Agriculture was accompanied by so steady a diminution in the prevalence of the disease, that it was thought the latter had been extirpated. The entire revocation of the muzzling order, which accordingly followed, proved, however, to be premature, and it became necessary to reimpose it in the districts where it had last been operative, namely, certain parts of South Wales. No cases were reported in 1903, 1904 or 1905.

Table XXIII.—Cases of Rabies in Dogs in Great Britain,
1887–1902.

Year. Counties. Cases. Year. Counties. Cases.
1887 28 217 1895 29 672
1888 19 160 1896 41 438
1889 20 312 1897 30 151
1890 20 129 1898 10 17
1891 17 79 1899 4 9
1892 12 38 1900 2 6
1893 18 93 1901 1 1
1894 17 248 1902 4 13

Pleuro-pneumonia in Great Britain was dealt with by the local authorities up to the year 1890. Between 1870 and 1889 the annual outbreaks had ranged between a minimum of 312 in 1884 and a maximum of 3262 in 1874, the largest number of cattle attacked in any one year being 7983 in 1872. The largest number of counties over which the outbreaks were distributed was 72 in 1873. On the 1st of September 1890 the Board of Agriculture assumed powers with respect to pleuro-pneumonia under the Diseases of Animals Act of that year. Their administration was attended by success, for from 192 outbreaks in Great Britain in 1891 the total fell to 35 in 1892 and to 9 in 1893. In the four subsequent years, 1894–1897, the outbreaks numbered 2, 1, 2, and 7 respectively. In January 1898 an outbreak was discovered in a London cow-shed. This proved to be the last case in the 19th century of what at one time had been a veritable scourge to cattle-owners and a source of heavy financial loss.

Between 1879 and 1892 inclusive, administration with regard to swine-fever was entrusted to local authorities. The largest number of outbreaks reported in any one of those years was 7926 in 1885, and the smallest 1717 in 1881. In 1893 the Board of Agriculture took over the management, and Table XXIV. shows the number of counties in which swine-fever existed, the number of outbreaks confirmed and the number of swine slaughtered by order of the board in each year since. The trouble with this disease has been mainly in England, the outbreaks in Wales and Scotland being comparatively few. What are termed “swine-fever infected areas” are scheduled by the board when and where circumstances seem to require, and the movement of swine within such areas is prohibited, much inconvenience to trade resulting from restrictions of this kind. Frequently, moreover, the exhibition of pigs at agricultural shows has to be abandoned in consequence of these swine-fever regulations.

 Table XXIV.—Outbreaks of Swine Fever in Great Britain,
1894–1905.

 Year.   Counties.   Outbreaks 
confirmed.
Swine slaughtered as
 diseased, or as having been 
exposed to infection.
1894 73 5682 56,296
1895 73 6305 69,931
1896 77 5166 79,586
1897 74 2155 40,432
1898 72 2514 43,756
1899 71 2322 30,797
1900 62 1940 17,933
1901 71 3140 15,237
1902 67 1688 8,263
1903 63 1478 7,933
1904 64 1196 5,603
1905 58 817 3,876

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