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Introduction Karen Brown and Daniel Gilfoyle The publication of a volume on livestock economies and veterinary medicine is perhaps particularly timely at the beginning of the twenty-first century, given that the interest of the urban population in animal health and welfare, at least in the West, has probably never been greater. Popular movements reflect a widespread concern about such things as animal rights, experimentation , hunting, industrial-style food production, and the threat of species extinction through exploitation and environmental change. Furthermore , certain events over the last twenty years have highlighted problems of animal diseases and their control. Foot-and-mouth disease was epizootic in Great Britain and the Netherlands during 2001, and apocalyptic images of slaughter and cremation were broadcast across the media, with considerable emotional impact. They seemed to negate modern science, with its vaccines and therapeutics, harking back to a more primitive age. During the early 1990s, the fact that dangerous diseases may pass between animals and humans was again brought to the public consciousness by the discovery of a link between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Presently,  | Karen Brown and Daniel Gilfoyle veterinary and medical authorities in Europe and elsewhere are concerned with the dangers posed by avian influenza, which emerged in Southeast Asia and appears to be moving westward. The disease threatens the poultry industry , but more important, from the point of view of those not involved in that economic sector, is the fear that the virus will mutate to become transmissible between humans. Fevered comparisons have been drawn in the media with the deadly “Spanish flu” epidemic of the late 1910s. While such developments offer considerable scope for sensationalist reporting, they are obviously of great importance to contemporary societies. They also raise questions about how livestock diseases have been managed in different social, political, and economic contexts. The historical literature on the management and control of livestock diseases has, to date, largely been restricted to studies with a national or local focus. Much of what has been written so far about veterinary medicine and veterinary interventions has referred to western Europe, the United States, and South Africa, where historians have been particularly interested in examining the late nineteenth-century professionalizaton of veterinary science within the context of expanding state bureaucracies.1 In addition, for Great Britain and the United States, there have been articles on public health issues, especially bovine tuberculosis and tapeworm infestation, which can be transmitted to humans through contaminated milk and meat, respectively. Beginning in the late nineteenth century,both governments introduced regulations dealing with food production and processing.2 Historians have also taken an interest in contemporary diseases such as BSE and foot-and-mouth,3 as well as infections that have historically caused devastating losses,most notably the cattle diseases contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and rinderpest.4 In addition , there are studies linking the history of animal diseases and their control to environmental history. In the West, older ideas that livestock diseases were caused by “miasmas” or unhealthy vapors pervaded well into the twentieth century and were not automatically superseded by the reductionist germ theories of the late nineteenth century.5 In some regions, biting arthropods such as ticks and tsetse flies transmitted specific diseases, suggesting the importance of environmental factors in their epidemiology and control. Scientists and indigenous pastoralists knew that, in some cases, wild animals played a role in the maintenance of infection, while certain plant species were toxic to domestic animals.6 This emphasis on the ecology of disease is particularly a feature of studies on Africa, where trypanosomosis (spread by tsetse flies) has been such an important determinant of pastoral production and practices.7 While the historiography of veterinary medicine and animal diseases has grown considerably in recent years, relevant studies are, given the im- Introduction |  portance of the topic, still relatively few. This book is intended to assemble accounts from different parts of the world, thus providing a starting point for further comparative inquiry. Broadly speaking, four interrelated themes emerge from these chapters. Several chapters deal with the institutionalization of veterinary medicine and the role veterinary institutions came to play instatebuildingandregulationinbothmetropolitanandcolonialsettings(in particular, those by Peter Koolmees, Ann Greene, Abigail Woods, Dominik Hünniger, Martine Barwegen, Daniel Doeppers, Rita Pemberton, Robert John Perrins, Saverio Krätli, and David Anderson). From the nineteenth century on, the professionalization of veterinary medicine was supported by improvements in the understanding of disease etiologies and the efficacy of treatments. Second, the expansion...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821443101
Related ISBN
9780821418857
MARC Record
OCLC
681350866
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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