United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

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membrane, where the disease first api>eared, and hang or project into
tin- cavity of the pharynx, either as pendulous masses with a slender
stem or as tumors with a broad base. Their position may be such as to
interfere with swallowing and with breathing. In either case serious
symptoms will soon appear.

The invasion of the bones of the jaws by actinomycosis must be re-
garded as one of the most serious forms of the disease. (Plates xxxix,
Fig. 1, XLI.) It may start in the marrow of the bone and by a slow ex-
tension gradually undermine the entire thickness of the bone itself. The
growth may continue outward, and after working its way through
muscle and skin finally break through and appear externally as stink-
ing fungoid growths. The growth may at the same time work its way
inward and appear in the mouth. The disease may also begin in the
periosteum or covering of the bone and destroy the bone from without

Actinomycosis of the lungs is occasionally observed, and it is not
improbable that it has been mistaken at times* for tuberculosis. The
actinomyces grains are, however, easily observed if the diseased tissue
be carefully examined. The changes in the lungs as they appear to
the naked eye vary considerably from case to case. Thus, in one animal
the lungs were aft'ected as in ordinary broncho-pneumonia as to the
location, extent, and appearance of the disease process. The affected
lobes had a dark-red flesh appearance, with yellowish areas sprinkled
in here and there. (See Plate XL, Figs. 1, 2.) These latter areas were
the seat of multiplication of the actinomyces fungus. In another case,
of which only a small portion of the lungs was sent to the laboratory,
the-e were completely transformed into a uniformly grayish mass, very
soft and pulpy to the touch, and appearing like very soft and moist
dough. (Plate XL, Fig. 3.) The actinomyces grains were exceedingly
abundant in this tissue, and appeared when the tissue was incised as
minute sulphur-yellow grains, densely sprinkled through the tissue,
which readily came away and adhered to the knife blade. In still
another case, a portion of the lung tissue was converted into large
soft masses from 1 to 3 inches in diameter, each partly inclosed in
very dense connective tissue. These soft grayish-yellow masses like-
wi.M resembled moist dough in their consistency, and the actinomyces
grains, though neither very distinct nor at all abundant, were easily
fished out and identified as such. A portion of this growth, which was
as large as a child's head, was converted into an abscess filled with
my semi-liquid pus.


This case differed from the preceding in that all appearance of lung
tissue was gone from the diseased mass. Only on the exterior the lung
tissue could be recognized, although even there it had been largely con-
verted into very dense whitish connective tissue inclosing the fungoid
growth. In the other case the external form of the lung and the shape
and outline of the lobules were preserved, but the lung tissue itself was
not recognizable as such. In the case first mentioned the changes were
still less marked, and actinomycosis would not have been suspected by
a simple inspection. These few illustrations suffice to show that actino-
mycosis of the lungs may appear under quite different forms, and that
the nature of the disease can be accurately determined only by finding
the fungus itself. Barely actinomycosis attacks the body externally in
places other than the head and neck. Crookshank describes the case
of a bull in which the flank was attacked and subsequently the scrotum
became diseased. A large portion of the skin of the flank was destroyed
and covered with a leathery crust. When this was pulled away the pus
beneath it showed the actinoinyces grains to the naked eye.

Actinomycosis may in some cases be confounded with tuberculosis.
The diagnosis does not offer any difficulties, since the presence of the
aetinomyces fungus at once removes any existing doubts. As has
already been intimated, these grains are visible to the naked eye, and
their nature is readily determined with the aid of a microscope.

The course of the disease is quite slow. As the tumors grow they
may interfere with -the natural functions of the body. According to
their situation, mastication, rumination, or breathing may be interfered
with, and in this way the animal may become emaciated. Actinomy-
cosis of the jawbones leads to destruction of the teeth and impedes the
movements necessary to chewing the food. Similarly, when the disease
attacks the soft parts of the head obstructions may arise in the mouth
by an inward growth of the tumor. If tumors exist in the pharynx
they may partially obstruct the movements necessary to breathing, or
close the air-passages and cause partial suffocation. Actinomycosis of
the tongue, in interfering with the many and varied movements of this
important organ, is also a serious matter. There is no reason to sup-
pose that the localized disease interferes with the general health in any
other way than indirectly, until internal organs, such as the lungs,
become involved.

Prevention. The question as to how and where animals take this
disease is one concerning which we are still in the stage of conjecture,
because we possess as yet very little information concerning the life
history of the aetinomyces itself. The quite unanimous view of all
observers is that animals become infected with the food. The fungus
is lodged upon the plants and in some way enters the tissues of the
head, the lungs, and the digestive tract, where it sets up its peculiar
activity. It is likewise quite generally believed that the fungus is, as
it were, inoculated into the affected part. This inoculation is performed


by the sharp and pointed parts of plants which penetrate the mucous
membrane and carry with them the fungus. The disease is therefore
inoculable rather than contagious. The mere presence of the diseased
animal will not give rise to disease in healthy animals unless the acti-
nomyces grains pass directly from the diseased into some wound or
abrasion of the healthy, or else drop upon the food which is consumed
by the healthy. Not only are these views deducible from clinical
observation, but they have been proved by the positive inoculation of
calves and smaller animals with actinomyces. The danger therefore
of the presence of actinomyces for healthy animals is a limited one.
Nevertheless an animal affected with this disease should not be allowed
to go at large or run with other animals. If the fungus is being scat-
tered by discharging growths we certainly can not state at this stage
of our knowledge that other animals may not be infected by such dis-
tribution, and we must assume that this actually occursmntil more
positive information is at hand.

It is, however, the opinion of the majority of authorities that when
a< tinomycosis appears among a large number of animals they all con-
tract it in the same way from the food. Much speculation has there-
fore arisen whether any particular plant or group of plants is the source
of the infection, and whether any special condition of the soil favors
it. Very little positive information is at hand on these questions. It
would be very desirable for those who live in localities where this
disease is prevalent to make statistical and other observations on the
occurrence of the disease with reference to the season of the year, the
kind of food, the nature of the soil (whether swampy or dry, recently
n -claimed or cultivated for a long time) upon which the animals are
pastured or upon which the food is grown.

It is highly probable that such investigations will lead to an under-
standing of the source of the fungus and the means for checking the
spreading of the disease itself. Veterinarian Jensen, of Denmark, made
sMjne observations upon an extensive outbreak of actinomycosis, about
ten years ago, which led him to infer that the animals were inoculated
liv <-uting barley straw harvested from pieces of ground just reclaimed
from the sea. While the animals remained unaffected as long as they
pa -tured on this ground, or ate the hay obtained from it, they became
diseased after eating tlie straw of cereals from the name territory.
Others have found that cattle grazing upon low pastures along the
banks of streams and subject to inundations are more prone to the dis-
ease. It has also been observed that food gathered from such grounds
may give rise to the disease even after prolonged drying. Much addi-
tional information of a similar kind must be forthcoming before the
source and manner of infection in this disease and its dependence upon
external conditions will be known. It is not at nil improbable that
these may vary considerably from place to place.

Treatment This has been until recently almost entirely surgical.


When the tumors are external and attached to soft parts only, an early
removal may lead to recovery. This, of course, can only be undertaken
by a trained veterinarian, especially as the various parts of the head
and neck contain important vessels, nerves, and duct.s which should
be injured as little as possible in any operation. Unless the tumor is
completely removed it \rill reappear. Disease of the jawbones is at
best a very serious matter, and treatment is likely to be of no avail.

In March, 1892, an important contribution to our knowledge of this sub-
ject was made by M. Ifocard, of the Alfort Veterinary School, in a com-
munication to the French Central Society of Veterinary Medicine. He
showed clearly that the actinomycosis of the tongue, a disease which
appears to be quite common in Germany, and is there known as " wooden-
ton gue," could be quickly and permanently cured by the administration
of iodide of potassium. M. Nocard calls attention to the success of M.
Thomassen, of Utrecht, who recommended this treatment as long ago
as ] 885, and who has since treated more than eighty cases, all of which
have been cured. A French veterinarian, M. Godbifle, has treated a
number of cases of actinomycosis in the tongue with the same remedy,
all of which have been cured. M. Nocard also gives details of a case
which was cured by himself.

All of the cases referred to were of actinomycosis of the tongue, and
no one appears to have attempted the cure of actinomycosis of the jaw
until this was undertaken by Dr. Norgaard, veterinary inspector of the
Bureau of Animal Industry. He selected a young steer in April, 1892,
in fair condition, which had a tumor on the jaw, measuring 154 inches
in circumference, and from which a discharge had already been estab-
lished. This animal was treated with iodide of potassium, and the
result was a complete cure.

The treatment with iodide of potassium consists in giving full doses
of this medicine once or twice a day until improvement is noticed, when
the dose may be reduced or given less frequently. The size of the dose
should depend somewhat upon the weight of the animal. M. Thomassen
gives one and one-half drains of iodide of potassium daily in one dose,
dissolved in a pint of water until improvement is noticed, which he
states is always within eight days. Then he decreases the dose to one
dram. The animals do well 'under this treatment, showing only the
ordinary symptoms which follow the use of iodine, the principal ones
being discharged from the nose, weeping of the eyes, and peeling off of
the outer layer of the skin. These symptoms need cause no uneasiness,
as they never result in any serious disturbance of the health.

M. Godbille has given as much as four drams (half an ounce) in one
day to a steer, decreasing the dose half a dram each day until the do'se
was one and one-fourth drains, which was maintained until the twelfth
day of treatment, when the steer appeared entirely cured.

M. Xocard gave the first day one and one-half drams in one dose to
a cow; the secou* and succeeding days a dose of one dram in the morn-


ing aiul evening, in each case before feeding. This treatment was con-
tinued for tea days. when the animal was cured.

Dr. Xorgaard gave two and one-half drams dissolved in water once
a day for three days. He then omitted the medicine for a day or two,
and continued it according to symptoms. These examples of the treat-
ment as it has been successfully administered by others will servo as a
sufficient indication for those who wish to test it.

Arfhiomycoisiii anil Hie public health. The interest which has been
aroused concerning this cattle disease is largely due to the fact that
the same disease attacks human beings. Its slow progress, its tend-.
cncv to remain restricted to certain localities, and the absence of any
directly contagious properties, have thus far not aroused any anxiety
in other countries as to its influence on the cattle industry, not even to
the point of placing it among the infectious diseases of which statistics
are annually published. Its possible bearing on public health has.
however, given this disease a place in the public mind which it hardly

It has already been stated that the actinoinyces fungus found in hu-
man disease is considered by authorities the same as that occurring in
bovine affections. It is therefore of interest to conclude this article
with a brief discussion of the disease in man and its relation to acti-
uomyeosis in cattle.

In man the location of the disease process corresponds fairly well with
that in cattle. The majority of cases which have been reported in dif-
ferent pa rts <f the world, and they are now quite numerous, indicate
disease of the face. The skin or the jawbones may become affected,
and by a very slow process it may extend downward upon the neck ;:i d
even into the cavity of the chest. In many cases the teeth have been
found in a state of more or less advanced decay and ulceration. In a
few cases disease of the lungs was observed without coexisting disease
of the Iwmes or soft parts of the head. In such cases the fungus must
li.ivc been inhaled. The disease of the lungs after a. time extends upon
the chest wall. Here it may corrode the ribs and work its way through
the muscles and the skin. An abscess is thus formed discharging pus
containing actinomyccs grains. Disease of the digestive organs caused
l>y this fungus has also been observed in a few instances.

(i rant ing the identity of the disease in man and cattle, the question
ha- Ueen raised whether cattle are responsible for the disease in man.
1 1 in emission of the infectious agent may be conceived of as taking
place during the life of the animal and after slaughter from the meat.
That human beings have contracted actinomyces by coining in contact
with diseased cattle is not shown by the cases that have hitherto been
reported, for the occupations of most of the patients did not bring them
into any relation whatever with cattle. While the possibility of mob
direct transmission is not denied, therefore, it must be considered ex-


tremely rare. Practically the same position is maintained at present
by most authorities as regards the transmission of the disease to man
by eating meat. Israel, who has studied this question carefully, found
the disease in Jews who never ate pork* and who likewise were protected
by the rigorous meat inspection practiced by their sect from bovine acti-
nomycosis. Furthermore it must be borne in mind that actinomycosis is
a local disease causing great destruction of tissue where the fungus mul-
tiplies, but very rarely becoming generally disseminated over the body
from the original disease focus. The fungus is only found in places
where the disease process is manifest to the eye or becomes so in a very
short time after the lodgment of the fungus. Only the greatest negli-
gence would allow the actually diseased parts to be sold and consumed.
Finally this parasite, like all others, would be destroyed in the process
of cooking. The majority of authorities thus do not believe that actino-
mycosis in man is directly traceable to the disease in animals, but are of
the opinion that both man and animals are infected from a third source.
This source has already been discussed above. How far these views
may be modified by further and more telling investigations of the par-
asitic fungus itself no one can predict. There are still wide gaps in our
knowledge, and the above presentation simply summarizes theprevail-


[Description of plates.]

PLATE XXXIX. Fig. 1. Actinomycosis of the jaw. The lower jawbone lias been
extensively eaten away by the disease. Fig. 2. Actinomyces fnugus from a tumor
of the jawbone in cattle, magnified 550 times. Both figures are taken from Johne
(Encyklopiidie d. ges. Thierheilkunde).

PLATE XL. Actinomycosis of the lungs, Fig. 1. Transverse section of the ventral
lobe of the right lung from a case studied in the laboratory. The yellowish dots
represent the places where the actinomyces fungus is lodged. The larger yellowish
patches are produced by the confluence of a number of isolated centers. The entire
lobe is of a dark flesh-red color due to collapse and broncho-pneumonia. Fig. 2. The
cut surface of a portion of the principal lobe of the same lung, showing the recent
invasion of antinomy cosis from the other lobe: a, Large air tube; &, artery; c, a
pneumonic lobule; d, lobule containing minute yellowish dots. In these the actino-
myces fungus is lodged. Fig. 3. Cut surface of a small portion of another lung,
showing a few lobules a. The fungus is sprinkled throughout the lung tissue in the
form of yellowish grains, as shown in the illustration. The pleural covering of the
lung tissue is shown in profile above.

PL/TE XLI. Actinomycosis of the jaw (lumpy-jaw, etc.), reduced one-half.
(From Johne, in Encyklopiidie d. gesammt. Thierheilkunde.) The lower jaw is
sawn through transversely, t. c., from right to left, and shows the disease within the
jawbone itself; a, within the mouth, showing the papilla; on the mucous membrane
of the cheek ; 6, front view of a molar tooth ; c, the skin covering the lower surface
of the jawbone; d, the jawbone hollowed out and enlarged by the formation of
cavities within it, which are filled with the soft growth of the actinomycotic tumor.
The section makes it appear as if the bone were broken into fragments and these
forced apart; e, a portion of the tumor which has broken through the bone and the
skin and appears as a tumor on the cheek. The little roundish masses represent the
granulomata (minute tumors) in which the fungus vegetates.

* Swine are subject to actiuomycosis.




.\i'Ti.No.\r\ rosis 01 Tin-: .i.\\v


ing views to which there are of course dissenters. Aii attempt to give
the views of both sides on this question would necessitate the summa-
rizing and impartial discussion of all the experiments thus far made
a entirely beyond the scope of the present work.

Whether an animal affected with actinomycosis should be used for
human food after all diseased organs and tissues have been thoroughly
removed is a question the answer of which depends on a variety of
circumstances. Among these may be mentioned the thoroughness of
the meat inspection itself, which allows no really diseased animal to
pass muster, the extent of the disease, and the general condition of the
animal affected. If the vital organs have become involved, or if the
disease has become generalized, the condition of the animal will show
it. Animals seriously diseased and in which the general condition is
a fleeted should in all cases be condemned. Hard and fast lines it
would be impossible to draw in this as in some other diseases, and it
must be left to the skill of the inspector, reinforced by the knowledge
and practice of the entire civilized world and the advances constantly
made in our interpretation of disease, to settle the fitness or unfitness
of each case as it comes up.


Anthrax or charbon may be defined as an infectious disease which is
caused by specific bacteria, known as anthrax bacilli, and which is
more or less restricted by conditions of soil and moisture to definite
geographical localities. While it is chiefly limited to cattle and sheep
it may be transmitted to goats, horses, and certain kinds of game.
Smaller animals, such as mice, rabbits, and guinea-pigs speedily succumb
to inoculation. Dogs and swine are nearly insusceptible. The variety
i.i domesticated animals which it may attack renders it oneof the most
Ireaded scourges of animal life. It may even attack man. Of this
more will be stated farther on.

The cause of anthrax is a microscopic organism known as the anthrax
bacillus. (See Plate xxix, Fig. 7.) In form it is cylindrical or rod like,
measuring 3-^5 to f^ ff inch in length and jjj^jy inch in diameter. Like
all hactvria these rod like bodies have the power of indefinite multipli-
cation, and in the body of infected animals they produce death by rap-
idly increasing in numbers and prodneing substances which poison the
body. In the blood they multiply in number by becoming elongated and
then dividing into two, each new organism continuing the same process
indefinitely. Outside of the body, however, they multiply in a different
way when under conditions unfavorable to growth. Oval bodies ap-
pear within the rods which are called spores, and which remain alive
ami capable of germination after years of drying. They also resist
lit -at to a remarkable degree, so that boiling water is necessary to de-
stroy them. The bacilli themselves, on the other hand, show only very
24097 27


little resistance to heat and drying. It has long been known that the
anthrax virus thrives best under certain conditions of the soil and on
territories subject to floods and inundations. The particular kinds of
soil upon which the disease is observed are black, loose, warm, humus
soils, also those containing lime, marl, and clay, finally peaty, .swampy
soils resting upon strata which hold the water, or, in other words, are
impervious. Hence fields containing stagnant pools may be the source
of infection. The infection may be limited to certain farms, or even to
restricted areas on such farms. Even in the Alps, over 3.000 feet above
sea level, where such conditions prevail in secluded valleys anthrax per-
sists among herds.

Aside from these limitations to specific conditions of the soil, anthrax
is a disease of world-wide distribution. It exists in most countries of
Europe, in Asia, Africa, Australia, and in our own country in the Lower
Mississippi Yalley and perhaps elsewhere.

Meteorological conditions have also an important share in determin-
ing the severity of the disease. On those tracts subject to inundations
in spring, a very hot, dry summer is apt to cause a severe outbreak.
The relation which the bacillus bear;s to these conditions is not posi-
tive!}" known. It may be that during and immediately after inunda-
tions or in stagnant water the bacilli find enough nourishment in the
water hero and there to multiply and produce an abundant crop of
spores, which are subsequently carried, in a dry condition, by the winds
during the period of drought and disseminated over the vegetation.
Animals feeding upon this vegetation may contract the disease if the
spores germinate in the body.

Another source of the virus, and one regarded by many authorities as
perhaps the most important, are the bodies of animals which have died
of anthrax. It will be remembered that in such bodies the anthrax
bacilli are present in enormous numbers, and wherever blood or other
body fluids are exposed to the air on the surface of the carcass there
the formation of spores will go on in the warm season of the year with
great rapidity. It will thus be readily understood how this disease may
become stationary in a given locality and appear year after year and
even grow in severity if the carcasses of animals which have succumbed
to it are not properly disposed of. These should be buried deeply, so
that spore formation may be prevented and no animal have access to
them. By exercising this precaution the disease will not be dissemi-
nated by flies and other insect pests.

We have thus two agents at work in maintaining the disease in any
locality, the soil and meteorological conditions and the carcasses of
animals that have died of the disease. Besides these dangers, which are

Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 48 of 56)