At a meeting of the Barnstaple Rotary Club on November 5th, Mr. Percy Penhale, Borough Veterinary Inspector, read a paper upon bovine tuberculosis. Mr. Penhale said he wished to speak with particular regard to a pure milk supply, which was a vital topic to them all. With consumption so rife as it was among human beings, veterinary surgeons marvelled that “the powers that be” apparently continued to regard the present state of affairs with apathy, and it was high time sweeping measures were adopted. There were various methods of infection, but cohabitation and inhalation were by far the most frequent, and almost always in a cow shippen or other confined space where tubercle bacilli had been voided from the bodies of previous subjects of the disease. In the early stages there were no appreciable symptoms, and the general condition of the animal might afford no information. Following a technical description of the disease, Mr. Penhale passed to its importance on the health of the general public. It did not stretch one's imagination far to see that the dairy herd was likely to be far more affected with tuberculosis than other cattle, as these were more often confined together in buildings. It was estimated by many eminent authorities that at least 33 per cent. of the dairy herd to‐day were tuberculous. In support of that he would say that in 56 herds tested around the Birmingham district 37 per cent. were found to be affected. It then became necessary to show that bovine tuberculosis was transmissible to mankind. This had been completely proved over and over again, but to what degree the general public was in total ignorance. In 1912 Mitchell, working in Edinburgh, discovered that 90 per cent. of cases of tuberculosis in the human being were bovine in origin. Those figures raised considerable criticism in the medical profession, but some time later Beng, working in the same city, confirmed Mitchell's experiences. It might, therefore, be taken as a fact that bovine infection was responsible for the majority of cases of tuberculosis in the human being. And bovine infection was but another name for milk infection. In the early days of life, when resistance to the disease was at its lowest, and cows' milk was the staple article of diet, the child was brought into contact with the constantly‐recurring possibilities of infection. To analyse the methods suggested for our protection, Pasteurization and boiling of milk had been the reiterated cry of many, and it was true that milk heated to 85 degrees centigrade (or 185 degrees Fahrenheit) would destroy all the tubercle bacilli or spores that the milk contained. But scientists were about equally divided. One half said that Pasteurization or boiling destroyed some of the necessary vitamines and salts that raw milk should contain. In any case, such methods should be unnecessary, and to his mind it was merely condoning an evil. Then microscopical examination of milk was very uncertain, and was not the safeguard so many would have them believe. Where could they look for the salvation? He unhesitatingly replied to the tuberculin test—the safest and surest test they were ever likely to know. He would have it applied to every milk‐bearing cow. In his view the milk of re actors should be forthwith condemned, or Pasteurized and used for calves.
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