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Chapter 6 Fighting Rinderpest in the Philippines, 1886–1941 Daniel F. Doeppers The great epizootic waves of rinderpest that devastated Philippine bovine populations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are the focus of this chapter.1 This disease struck not only cattle (Bos taurus) in great numbers but also water buffalo, or carabao (Bubalus bubalis)—the essential work animal in Philippine wet-rice agriculture. Total provincial bovine loss rates of around 85 percent were recorded in the first two waves. Such catastrophes often left local rice fields unworked for years afterward. First, the changing dynamics of the Philippine cattle- and sheep-importing business is considered, since this offers the best explanation of how and when rinderpest was transferred from the Asian mainland to the archipelago . Then, the unfolding geographies of the three great rinderpest epizootics are sketched. Finally, the actions taken and not taken by the authorities in their long frustrating but ultimately successful effort to limit livestock mortality are reviewed.2 With the advent of mass-market hamburgers, beef eating has become commonplace in Manila. As recently as the 1960s, however, beef was not a significant part of the ordinary, less-affluent Filipino’s diet, and a great Fighting Rinderpest in the Philippines, 1886–1941 |  many Manilans were not used even to tasting beef. For a long time in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the meat from cattle slaughtered in the city was consumed mainly by Spaniards and other foreigners and wealthy cosmopolitan Filipinos. Some Spaniards in the 1890s even advocated a heavily meat—meaning beef—diet as a protection for European constitutions in the tropics. For affluent Filipinos, it would have been a mark of class. Carabao meat, or “carabeef” as it is sometimes called today, was eaten on occasion in the city. But there was a certain prejudice against it, and there were often official regulations aimed at preserving the carabao population for agricultural and draft purposes. From 1925 to 1933, only about 2 percent of the bovines slaughtered annually in Manila for human consumption were carabao. Domestic cattle are an introduced species in most parts of insular Southeast Asia and not of deep antiquity. The major exception is found in part of Indonesia, where Bali cattle (and the original Java cattle) were domesticated from the native banteng (Bos javanicus). In the northern and central portions of the Philippine archipelago, cattle were introduced under Spanish aegis in the sixteenth century from China, Mexico, and Spain. The introduction of cattle to the insular Southeast Asian lowlands has been a long and incomplete process.3 In any case, for many years, only a few Filipinos consumed beef with any regularity—and when they used milk, it usually came from a carabao. Imported Animals and Epizootic Disease Caused by a virus, rinderpest attacks the mucous membranes of the body, especially the digestive tract.4 High fever, ulcers of the membranes, dysentery , and death in a week or less are typical. In general, cloven-hoofed ruminants are susceptible at one level or another. Rinderpest is readily transmitted by close association with an infected animal through contact with nasal and other discharges, dung, and/or urine. The virus may be transferred directly or indirectly through food. In Shanghai, dairy cattle got the disease when they were fed fresh cotton-seed cake believed to have been contaminated by infected animals working in the local cotton mills. Rinderpest is less likely or unlikely to spread through the air or by insect transmission, and even direct discharges are believed to lose their virulence following two days in sunlight.5 Although equivalent patterns for the whole of Southeast Asia remain to be worked out, there was a significant trade in animals in many areas in the late nineteenth century, and these live-animal flows often resulted in disease transmission. Siam/Thailand, in particular, was annually exporting  | Daniel F. Doeppers thousands of bullocks to Singapore and Sumatra in the 1880s and 1890s. This trade crashed in 1897 when “rinderpest . . . ravaged the whole of central Siam, attacking both buffalo and oxen with such severity that the [rice] harvest prospects [were] seriously threatened.”At the same time, work and milk animals were also exported from India to Malaya and Singapore. Singapore maintained an open-import policy on livestock until an outbreak of rinderpest in Calcutta in 1935 threatened dire consequences. Until then, milk animals were imported directly from the Punjab, passing by rail to Calcutta and by sea to Singapore. In nearby Indonesia, according to Martine...


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