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Chapter 9 Animal Disease and Veterinary Administration in Trinidad and Tobago, 1879–1962 Rita Pemberton From the advent of European control of the Caribbean, there was a preoccupation with plants, the cultivation of which dominated the agricultural sector. However, animals have also played important roles in the development of these territories. They featured in the food and rituals of the indigenous peoples and were central to European colonial activity. The cultivation of the major crops was dependent upon imported animals . Since there is no indigenous species raised as livestock in the region, all reared species have been derived from imported breeds.1 The scattered references to animals in the existing literature focus on these animal imports . Alfred Crosby comments on the “amazingly successful invasion of Old World livestock”in the Caribbean, projecting an easy adaptation to the new environment in which they thrived, with some becoming feral.2 Noting the animal needs of early Caribbean plantations, David Watts discusses the heavy reliance on horses, donkeys, and cattle, as well as the attempt to use camels and the introduction of sheep, pigs, and other domesticated animals.3 While Crosby argues that “many kinds of livestock pathogens have lagged behind their hosts in the trans-oceanic crossing,”4 some arriving  | Rita Pemberton in the mid-nineteenth century, Watts refers to the vulnerability of horses and camels in Barbados to disease during the 1660s.5 Indeed, we find one Trinidad planter complaining about a disastrous epidemic affecting mules on his estate in 1853.6 From the 1930s, a body of literature on outbreaks of rabies in Trinidad was published in medical journals by Dr. Joseph Pawan, who was engaged in research on this disease.7 Subsequent to this, veterinarians Harry Metivier and Holman Williams have written on the subject.8 Metivier outlines the development of veterinary services in Trinidad and Tobago, while Williams offers a brief discussion on the origins of animals and their diseases in the region. Because of sporadic and limited treatment in the historiography, it is not possible to obtain a comprehensive picture of the nature of the impact of animals on the history of the British Caribbean . This chapter is an attempt to address this deficiency. The chapter examines the impact of animals on the history of Trinidad and Tobago from 1879 to 1962 with specific reference to animal disease. The experience of this colony reflects an interrelationship between human and animal health at critical times in the historical evolution of the society. The chapter aims to demonstrate the significance of animal-centered research for Caribbean history with the hope that further research in this area will be stimulated. The focus of the chapter is first on the zoonoses that presented serious public health challenges in the colony. The high incidence of tuberculosis during the first half of the twentieth century and of the mystifying disease, which was later identified as paralytic rabies, reflected the intersection between human and animal health. The second focus is to show how animal diseases impacted the economy of the colony and consequently led to the establishment and development of veterinary services in Trinidad and Tobago from the late nineteenth century to the end of the colonial era. The History of theVeterinary Establishment inTrinidad andTobago Veterinary concerns received growing focus during the second part of the nineteenth century. Increased sanitary consciousness in the late nineteenth century resulted from new knowledge on disease-causing agents and led to a growing emphasis on disease prevention at the imperial centers , which was slowly reflected in the policies in the colonies.9 In particular , there was recognition of the role of the movement of people, animals, and plants in the spread of disease, and it is to this movement that the first colonial attempts at disease control were directed. Hence, quarantine was the first measure of disease control. The first specific animal-related action in this regard was the 1860 Trinidad ordinance for the control of Disease and Veterinary Administration in Trinidad and Tobago |  the bacterial disease glanders, (or farcy) in horses. This law authorized the appointment of a veterinary officer to examine imported animals and destroy those that were infected.10 Ordinance 19 of 1872 was also intended to prevent glanders.11 This law restated the authority to appoint a veterinary officer and stipulated fines of fifty pounds for individuals in possession of diseased animals. In keeping with the new thrust toward cleanliness was the attempt to ensure that clean meat was offered for sale to the...

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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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