United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

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of immediate consequence to cattle on pastures, the virus may be car-
ried from place to place in hides, and it may be stored in the hay or
other fodder from the infected fields and cause an outbreak among
stabled animals feeding upon it in winter.


How cattle arc infected. We have seen above that the spores of the
anthrax bacilli, which correspond in their functions to the seeds of higher
plants, and which are the elements that resist the unfavorable conditions
in the soil, air, and water longest, are the chief agents of infection. They
may be taken into the body with the food and produce disease which
begins in the intestinal tract; or they may come in contact with
scratches, bites, or other wounds of the "skin, the mouth, and tongue,
and produce in these situations swellings or carbuncles. From such
swellings the bacilli penetrate into the blood and produce a general

It has likewise been claimed that the disease may be transmitted by
various kinds of insects which carry the bacilli from the sick and inoc-
ulate the healthy as they pierce the skin. When infection of the blood
takes place from the intestines the carbuncles may be absent. It has
already been stated that since the anthrax spores live for several years
the disease may be contracted in winter from food gathered on per-
manently infected fields.

The disease may appear sporadically, i. e., only one or several ani-
mals may be infected while the rest of the herd remain well, or it may
appear as an epizootic attacking a large number at about the same

Xyniptoms. The symptoms in cattle vary considerably, according
the disease begins in the skin, in the lungs or in the intestines. They
depend also on the severity of the attack. Thus we may have what is
called anthrax peracutus or apoplectiform, when the animal dies very
suddenly as if from apoplexy. Such cases usually occur in the begin-
ning of an outbreak. The animal, without having shown any signs
of disease, suddenly drops down in the pasture and dies in convulsions,
or an animal apparently well at night is found dead in the morning.

The second type anthrax acutus without any external swellings is
the one most commonly observed in cattle. The disease begins with a
high IVver. The temperature may reach 100 to 107 F. The pulse beats
from 80 to 100 per minute. Feeding and rumination arc suspended.
Chills and muscular tremors may appear and the skin show uneven
temperature. Tlio ears and base of the horns are cold, the coat star-
ing. The animals are dull and stupid and manifest great weakness.

To these symptoms others arc added in the course of the disease.
The dullness may give way to great uneasiness, champing of the jaws,
>pa-m i of the limbs, kicking and pawing the ground. The breathing
may heroine labored. The nostrils then dilate, the mouth is open, the
he;id raised and all muscles of the chest are strained during breathing
while the visible inucuous membranes (nose, mouth, rectum and vagina)
heroine bluish. If tlie disease has started in the bowels there is much
pain, as shown by the moaning of the animal; the discharges at first
linn heeome softer and covered with serum, mucus and blood.

As the disease approaches the fatal termination the weakness of the


animal increases. It leans against supports or lies down. Blood-ves-
sels may rupture and give rise to spots of blood on the various mucous
membranes and bloody discharges from nose, mouth, rectum and vagina.
The urine not unfrequently contains blood (red- water). Death ensues
within one or two days.

A third type of the disease anthrax subacutus includes those cases
in which the disease is more prolonged. It may last from three to seven
days and terminate fatally or end in recovery. In this type, which is
rarely observed, the symptoms are practically as described in the acute
form, only less marked.

In connection with these types of intestinal anthrax swellings may
appear under the skin in different parts of the body, or the disease may
start from such a swelling, caused by the inoculation of anthrax spores
in one of the several different ways already described. If the disease
begins in the skin it agrees in general with the subacute form in pro-
longed duration, and it may occasionally terminate in recovery if the
swellings are thoroughly incised and treated.

These swellings appear as O3demas and carbuncles. The former are
doughy tumors of a more or less flattish form passing gradually into
the surrounding healthy tissue. They are situated as a rule beneath
the skin in the fatty layer, and the skin itself is at first of healthy
appearance, so that they are often overlooked, especially when covered
with a good coat of hair. When they are cut open they are found to
consist of a peculiar jelly-like mass of a yellowish color and more or less
stained by blood. The carbuncles are firm, hot, tender swellings which
later become cool and painless and undergo mortification. The osdemas
and carbuncles may also appear in the mouth, pharynx, larynx, in the
tongue and in the rectum.

The bodies of cattle which have died of anthrax soon lose their
rigidity and become bloated, because decomposition sets in very rapidly.
From the mouth, nose, and anus blood-stained fluid flows in small
quantities. When such carcasses are opened and examined it will be
found that nearly all organs are sprinkled with spots of blood or extrav-
asations of various sizes. The spleen is enlarged from two to five
times, the pulp blackish and soft and occasionally disintegrated. The
blood is of tarry consistency, not firmly coagulated, and blackish in
color. In the abdomen, the thoracic cavity, and in the pericardium or
bag surrounding the heart more or less blood-stained fluid is present.
In addition to these characteristic signs the carbuncles and swellings
under the skin already described will aid in determining the true
nature of the disease. The most reliable method of diagnosis is the
examination of the blood and tissues for anthrax bacilli. This requires
a trained bacteriologist.

Treatment. This is as a rule ineffectual and useless, excepting per-
haps in cases which originate from external wounds. The swellings
t should be opened freely by long incisions with a sharp knife and



washed daily several times with carbolic acid solution (one ounce to a
quart of water). When suppuration has set in, the treatment recom-
mended in the chapter on wounds should be carried out.

Prevention. Sinc6 treatment is of little or no avail in this disease,
prevention is the most important subject demanding consideration.
The various means to be suggested may be brought under two heads :
(1) The surroundings of the animal; and (2) protective inoculation.

(1) What has already been stated in the foregoing pages on those
conditions of the pastures which are favorable to anthrax will suggest
to most minds after a little thought some of the preventive measures
\\hich may be of service in reducing losses in anthrax localities. All
that conduces to a better state of the soil should be attempted. The
state or nation should do its share in preventing frequent inundations,
by appropriate engineering. If pools of stagnant water exist on the
pastures, or if any particular portions are known by experience to give
rise to anthrax, they should be fenced off. Efforts should likewise be
made towards the proper draining of swampy lands frequented by cat-
tle. Sometimes it has been found desirable to abandon for a season
any infected and dangerous pastures. This remedy can not be carried
out by most farmers, and it is liable to extend the infected territory.
In some instances withdrawal of cattle from pastures entirely and feed-
ing them in stables is said to have reduced the losses.

It is of the utmost importance that carcasses of animals which have
died of anthrax should be properly disposed of, since every portion of
>u< h animal contains the bacilli ready to form spores when exposed to
the air. Perhaps the simplest means is to bury the carcasses deep,
\vlu-re they can not be exposed by dogs or wild animals. It may be
necessary to bury them on the pasture, but it is better to remove them
to places not frequented by susceptible animals. If they are moved
SIIMUJ distance it must be borne in mind that the ground and all objects
which have come in contact with the carcass should be disinfected.
This is best accomplished with chloride of lime. For washing utensils,
!.. a 5 per cent solution maybe prepared by adding 3 ounces to 2
q i i;iits of water. This should be prepared fresh from the powder, and it
is but little trouble to have a MI mil tin measure of known capacity to
dip out the powder to be added to the water whenever necessary. The
r;ir< ass and the ground should be sprinkled with powdered chloride, or
if this be not at hand, an abundance of ordinary slaked or unslaked
linn- should be used in it place.

The removal of carcasses to rendering establishments is always
fraught with danger, unless those who handle them are thoroughly
aware of the danger of scattering the virus by careless handling in
wagons which are not tight. As a rule, the persons in charge of anch
transfer have no training for this important work, so that deep burial
is to be preferred. Burning large carcasses IN rarely feasible. It is,
however, the most certain means of destroying infectious material of


any kind, and should be resorted to whenever practicable. When sta-
bles have become infected they should be thoroughly cleaned out, and
the solution of chloride of lime freely applied on floors and woodwork.
The feed should be carefully protected from contamination with the
manure or other discharges from the sick.

Protective inoculation was first introduced by Louis Pasteur about
ten years ago, and has been quite extensively practiced in France and to
some extent in other European countries. The fluid used for inocula-
tion consists of bouillon in which modified anthrax bacilli have multi-
plied and are present in large numbers. The bacilli have been modified
by heat so that they have lost to[a certain degree their original virulence.
Two vaccines have been prepared. The first or weakest for the first
inoculation, and the second or stronger for a second inoculation some
twelve days later.

These vaccines have been used for cattle and sheep. Their power to
prevent an attack of anthrax subsequently has been the subject of con-
troversy ever since their use began. The French claim, that the vac-
cines are successful in protecting cattle and sheep and that the losses
from anthrax in France have been much reduced by their persistent
application. According to other observers there are several difficulties
inherent in the practical application of anthrax vaccination. Among
these may be mentioned the variable degree of attenuation of different
tubes of the vaccine and the varying susceptibility of the animals to be
inoculated. It would be impossible at present to decide from pub-
lished statistics as to the relative value of these anthrax inoculations
in preventing losses. While some authorities regard the vaccination of
sheep of little use because of the losses directly due to the vaccination,
they admit that vaccination- of cattle is accompanied by fewer losses,
and that it seems to be protective and of use in localities where the dis-
ease regularly appears every year, and is, so to speak, bound to the soil.

It is very important to call attention to the possibility of distributing
anthrax by this method of protective inoculation, since the bacilli them-
selves are present in the culture liquid. It is true that they have been
modified and weakened by the process adopted by Pasteur, but it is not
impossible that such modified virus may regain its original virulence
after it has been scattered broadcast by the inoculation of large herds.
No vaccination should therefore be permitted in localities free from


Anthrax may be transmitted to man in handling the carcasses and
hides of animals which have succumbed to the disease. The infection
usually takes place through some abrasion or^light wound of the skin
into which the anthrax spores or bacilli find their way. The point of
inoculation appears at first as a dark point or patch, compared by some
writers to the sting of a flea. After a few hours this is changed into a


reddened pimple which bears on its summit, usually around a hair, a
yellowish blister or vesicle which later on becomes red or bluish in color.
The burning sensation in this stage is very great. Later on, this pimple
enlarges, its center becomes dry, gangrenous, and is surrounded by an
elevated discolored swelling. The center becomes drier and more
leather-like, and sinks in as the whole increases in size. The skin
around this swelling, or carbuncle, is stained yellow or bluish, and is
not infrequently swollen and doughy to the touch. The carbuncle
itself rarely grows larger than a pea or a small nut, and is but slightly

Anthrax swellings, or redemas, already described as occurring in cat-
tle, may also be found in man, and they are at times so extensive as to
produce distortion in the appearance of the part of the body on which
they are located. The color of the skin over these swellings varies
rding to the situation and thickness of the skin and the stage of
the disease., and may be white, red, bluish, and blackish.

As these carbuncles and swellings may lead, sooner or later, to an in-
fection of the entire body and thus be fatal, surgical assistance should
at once be called if there is well-grounded suspicion that any swelling*
.ubling those described above have been due to inoculation with
anthrax virus. Inasmuch as physicians differ as to treatment of such
accidents in man, it would be out of place to make any suggestions in
this connection.

To show that the transmission of anthrax to man is not so very
uncommon we take the following figures from the last report of the
German Government (1890). One hundred and eleven cases were brought
ti> the notice of the authorities, of which eleven terminated fatally. The
largest number of inoculations were due to the slaughtering, opening, and
skinning of animals affected with anthrax. Hence the butchers suffered
iii<>:4 extensively. Of the one hundred and eleven, thirty-six belonged
to this craft.

In addition to anthrax of the skin (known as malignant pustule),
human beings are subject, though very rarely, to the disease of the
lungs and the digestive organs. In the former case the spores are
inhaled by workmen in establishments in which wool, hides, and rags
are worked over. In the latter case the disease is contracted by eat-
ing the flesh of diseased animals which has not been thoroughly cooked.
These forms of the disease are more fatal than those in which the disease
starts from the skin.


I. lack-quarter, black-leg, charbon tymptomatique of the French,
of the Germans, is a rapidly fatal infectious disease of
cattle, associated with external swellings which emit a crackling
Mmid when handled. This disease was formerly regarded identical
with anthrax, but the investigations of the past ten or fifteen years


have definitely proved that it is a specific disease produced by bacilli,
readily distinguishable from anthrax bacilli. (Plate xxix, Fig. 4.)
Cuttle between 6 months and 4 years of age are the most susceptible.
Sucking calves under 6 months are not attacked, nor are they as sus-
ceptible to inoculation as older animals.

Like anthrax, black-quarter is more or less restricted to definite
localities. There are certain pastures upon which the disease regularly
appears in the summer and fall of the year. As to any peculiarities of
the soil nothing is definitely known. Some authors are inclined to
regard moist, undrained, and swampy pastures favorable to this disease.
It occurs in different parts of our own country. In Europe it exists in
France, various parts of Germany, in Belgium, Italy, in the Alps, and
in Algeria.

The cause of the disease is a bacillus resembling in some respects
the anthrax bacillus, and differing but little from it in size. It also
possesses the power of forming within itself a spore. In Plate xxix,
Fig. 4, this is represented as an uncolored spot located in one end of
the rod, which is enlarged so that the rod itself appears more or less
club-shaped. What has already been stated, concerning the significance
of the spore of the anthrax bacillus applies equally well to these
bodies. They resist destructive agents for a considerable length of
time, and may still produce disease when inoculated after several years
of drying. This fact, may account for the occasional appearance of
black-quarter in stables. The dry spores are carried in the hay or other
feed from the field, and cause disease when eaten by the susceptible
animals. Several observers have found this organism in the mud of
swamps. By placing a little of this mud under the skin the disease
has been called forth.

Since the disease may be produced by placing under the skin mate-
rial containing the specific bacilli and spores, it has been assumed that
cattle contract the disease mainly through wounds, either of the skin
or of the mouth, tongue, and throat. Slight wounds into which the
virus may find access may be caused by sharp or pointed parts of the

The symptoms of black-quarter are both of a general and a local
nature. The general symptoms are very much like those belonging to
other acute infectious or bacterial diseases. They begin from one to
three days after the infection has taken place, with loss of appetite and
of rumination, with dullness and debility and a high fever. The tem-
perature may rise to 107 F. To these maybe added lameness or stiff-
ness of one or more limbs, due to the tumor or swelling quite invariably
accompanying the disease. After a period of disease lasting from one
and a half to three days the affected animal almost always succumbs.
Death is preceded by increasing weakness, difficult breathing, and
occasional attacks of colic.

The most important characteristic of this disease is the appearance


of a tumor or swelling under the skin of the affected animal a few hours
after the setting in of the constitutional symptoms described above.
In some cases it may appear first. This tumor may be located on the
thighs (hence " black-leg," " black-quarter "), the neck, the shoulder,
the breast, the flanks, or the ruinpj never below the carpal (or knee)
and the hock joint. It more rarely appears in the throat and at the
base of the tongue. The tumor, at first small and painful, spreads very
rapidly both in depth and extent. When it is stroked or handled a
l)eculiar crackling sound is heard under the skin. This is due to a col-
lection of gas formed by the bacilli as they multiply. At this stage the
skin becomes dry, parchment-like, and cool to the touch in the center of
the tumor. If the swelling is cut into, a frothy, dark red, rather disa-
greebly smelling fluid is discharged. The animal manifests little or no
pain during the operation.

As it is frequently desirable to know whether the disease is anthrax
or black- quarter, a few of the most obvious post-mortem changes may
here be cited. The characteristic tumor with its crackling sound when
stroked has already been described. If, after the death of the animal,
it be more-thoroughly examined, it will be noted that the tissue under
the skin is infiltrated with blood and yellowish, jelly-like material and
-as bubbles. The muscular tissue beneath the swelling maybe brown-
ish or black, shading into dark red and dark yellow. It is soft and
easily torn and broken up. In the abdomen and the thorax blood-
stained fluid is not infrequently found, together with blood-staining of
the lining membrane of these cavities. Blood spots (or ecchymoses)
are also found on the heart and lungs.

Among the features of this disease which distinguish it from anthrax
may l>c mentioned the unchanged spleen and the ready clotting of the
blood. It will be remembered that in anthrax the spleen (milt) is very
much enlarged/ the blood tarry, coagulating feebly. The anthrax car-
Imncles and swellings differ from the black quarter swellings in not con-
taining gas and in causing death less rapidly. Other means of diag-
nosis, which have reference to the specific bacilli, to the iuoculable
character of the virus upon small animals, and which are of decisive
and final importance, can be utilized only by the trained bacteriologist
and veterinarian.

Treatment. In this disease remedies have thus far proved unavail-
ing. Some writers recommend that the swelling be opened by deep
and lon# incisions and a strong disinfectant applied to the exposed
p.uts. For such application a strong carbolic-acid solution (1 ounce
carbolic acid to a pint of water) is perhaps the most easily obtained.
Others recommend that if the tumor appears low down on a limb a
cord be lied around the limb just above the tumor and the latter opened
and treated as stated above. Since, nearly all those attacked die, there
is no harm in trying these rather heroic suggestions.

I'rcvention. The various means suggested under anthrax to prevent


the spread or recurrence of this disease are equally applicable to black-
quarter, and hence do not need to be repeated here. Furthermore, there
is practically no danger of a transmission of this disease from one
animal to another, since it is contracted on the pastures from the ground
and in stables from the food.

Before closing this brief account of the disease it may be interest-
ing to mention the efforts which have been made in the direction of
preventive inoculation. Three French veterinarians, Arloing, Oorne-
vin, and Thomas, have devised a method of inoculation which produces
immunity from subsequent attacks. The method has undergone various
modifications in their hands, and at present consists in an inoculation
of weakened virus beneath the skin of the tail. The virus is prepared
as follows :

The muscular tissue from the site of the swelling is dried rapidly
and then mixed with two parts of water. The mixture is allowed to
dry in ovens raised to a certain temperature. Two vaccines are pre-
pared, a first or weaker vaccine which has been exposed to a dry heat
of 212 F. for six hours, and a second or stronger vaccine exposed to
the lower temperature of 185 F. for the same length of time. Of each
of these dried vaccines a small quantity is ground up with water and
injected under the skin of the tail. The second vaccine is injected ten
days after the first. Those who have tried this method regard it as
safe and valuable in those districts where the disease annually recurs.


Malignant catarrh' or infectious catarrhal fever may be defined as an
acute infectious disease of cattle, in which the respiratory and the diges-
tive organs are involved in the disease. The cause of this affection has
not as yet been determined, although the general belief among author-
ities is that it is a disease due to microorganisms, perhaps belonging
to the bacteria. It is not, strictly speaking, a contagious disease, like
rinderpest or foot-and-mouth disease, for example, and hence it does not
appear in extensive outbreaks like these, but chiefly in isolated or con-
secutive cases. The predisposing causes are but little known, and vari-
ous theories have been offered to explain observed facts. One author
claims that the infection may arise in stables not kept well cleaned and
dry. That it may recur year after year on the same farm or in the same
locality has been frequently noticed by veterinarians in Europe. Noth-
ing positive is known whether the conditions of the soil have any bear-
ing on this disease, as they undoubtedly have in anthrax, for instance,
for it seems to exist both in valleys and in elevated regions. Fortu-
nately it is not a disease which spreads to any great extent, or which
causes severe losses, and hence legislative enactments do not seem to
be necessary for its restriction.

Synqttoms. Malignant catarrh attacks by preference young and well-
nourished animals in the spring of the year. According to authorities


a period of incubation of three to four weeks follows the infection before

Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 49 of 56)