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Chapter 1 Epizootic Diseases in the Netherlands, 1713–2002 Veterinary Science, Agricultural Policy, and Public Response Peter A. Koolmees The growth of livestock production has been regularly threatened and hampered by outbreaks of epizootic diseases, not only today but also in the past. The spread of contagious livestock diseases often coincided with animal movements due to trade or wars.1 The path followed by the disease can be closely observed on a local scale, too. Because of the socioeconomic implications of livestock diseases on the human food supply,many archives document the measures taken by local and national authorities to prevent further spread of the disease and to deal with the economic consequences for the farmers.2 Over the last three centuries, the threat of epizootic diseases has grown due to the expansion of national and international livestock trade. This led to calls for effective prevention and control of livestock diseases. Several European countries accepted the challenge, establishing state veterinary services and cattle-disease control acts around 1900. Mass outbreaks of animal diseases also led to scientific developments, as well as to major state interventions in rural society.3 The outbreak of classical swine fever in the Netherlands in 1997 and particularly the epizootic of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in 2001–2 led  | Peter A. Koolmees to great societal commotion and criticism on intensive livestock farming. The public became outraged when it was regularly confronted with images of mass slaughter, not only of diseased livestock but also of sound animals, particularly since these diseases posed no threat to human health. Livestock producers, the European Union (EU), the Ministry of Agriculture, and veterinarians alike were subject to this criticism. The latter were forced to follow a strict cull-and-slaughter policy after the EU adopted a nonvaccination policy in 1991. Despite superficial similarities, the response to recent outbreaks of epizootic diseases differed dramatically from previous responses. In this chapter, a comparison is made between major outbreaks of contagious livestock diseases that struck the Netherlands during the last three centuries. Attention will be paid to the role of veterinary science, the agricultural policy applied, and the public response. The choice and rationalization for particular control strategies will be discussed, as will potential reasons for the changing reaction to outbreaks of epizootic diseases over time. Before turning to the major outbreaks of epizootic diseases that struck the Netherlands, some general remarks will be made on the subject of animal plagues in history. History of Epizootic Diseases Many written sources are available with respect to information on the history of epizootic diseases.4 This subject was even a separate discipline taught at veterinary schools throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of these authors agree that, at least in European history, rinderpest5 was always thought to have come from the East where it was endemic on the Russian steppes. The spread of contagious animal diseases such as rinderpest ,contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP),and FMD was caused by international cattle trade and by armies that transported infected animals as victuals. For instance, the outbreak of rinderpest in the 1740s resulted from the Austrian War of Succession when infection passed from Hungary to other European countries. This traditional history of rinderpest, with its emphasis on the relationship between infection, warfare, and cattle trade, was criticized by J. A. Faber. According to him, outbreaks did not always coincide with war or spread along transport routes, and it is often difficult to diagnose rinderpest or any other epizootic after the fact. Further, we cannot be certain that the outbreaks described in historical documents are analogous to the devastating outbreaks we know from contemporary times.6 On the other hand, based on present-day experience and knowledge of epidemiology , it is obvious that the international cattle trade and cattle drives must have contributed to the spread of contagious animal diseases. Epizootic Diseases in the Netherlands, 1713–2002 |  From the numerous historical decrees concerning the control of rinderpest, it is clear that authorities were well aware of the potential threat to local livestock and cattle markets posed by cattle drives. National, regional , and local authorities alike issued special rinderpest decrees to prevent local livestock from being exposed to outside sources of infection. These decrees were particularly aimed at avoiding contact between local herds and caravans of imported cattle (including their owners and drovers ). The overland oxen routes were often located away from the main (state) roads. Also, contact with the local human and animal populations was avoided as much...


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