(Extracts from a lecture given before the Institute of Stock Inspectors by Max Henry, M.R.C.V.S., B.V.Sc., Chief Veterinary Surgeon, Department of Agriculture, N.S.W)
At a time such as the present, when the country is suffering from the inevitable reaction from a prolonged period of inflation, it is particularly opportune to consider the position which our services occupy or should occupy in State affairs. It occasionally happens that during what may roughly be termed "boom periods" the opportunity is taken to build up services which whilst essential to the optimum well-being of a country may have been somewhat neglected during periods of comparative dullness. Subsequently when deflation in due course arrives, it is only natural that the degree of essentiality of these services undergoes close scrutiny. It may, therefore, be well to consider the function of preventive veterinary medicine in State affairs.
First, and here probably there would be no dissension, it is the function of preventive veterinary medicine to protect the country against the introduction of disease from outside. This is provided in countries with sea frontiers by limiting the ports at which animals may be landed, by controlling the carriage of animals within territorial waters, by limiting the countries from which stock may be imported, by providing port inspection and quarantine stations for animals landed and by requiring veterinary certificates to accompany animals introduced. Countries with land frontiers provide for frontier guards, frontier veterinary police posts, fences, patrols, etc., and limit the roads by which stock may be introduced. They also require in many cases veterinary certificates to accompany animals introduced.
Secondly, preventive veterinary medicine must control infectious disease which has been introduced or is present in a country. The methods utilised are much the same everywhere —control of movement, slaughter, quarantine, immunisation. The methods often differ with the situation regarding the disease. Swine Fever provides an excellent example. In U.S.A. vaccination is apparently the only possible method of attack. In Canada it is prohibited. Coming nearer home, inoculation against Piroplasmosis is necessary in much of Queensland, but is prohibited in New South Wales. All four countries mentioned are taking perfectly correct action. It is the role of veterinary preventive medicine to determine which of the possibly divergent methods should be adopted in any given country against any given disease, and to make recommendations to that end.
It is not necessary to point out to you how valuable abattoir observations may be in controlling an outburst of disease. This is, of course, one of the reasons why the operations of meat inspection must be controlled by the veterinary authorities. As Ostertag, who is probably the greatest living authority on meat inspection, has pointed out: "The supervision of the sale of meat is a purely veterinary duty. This deals with the detection of animal diseases which are transmissible by ingestion to man, or which render the meat unsuitable in some way for human consumption. The supervision of the sale of meat is associated with veterinary tible. It was discovered in every inspection of animals for slaughter and of meat and also with the veterinary control of foodstuffs. The inspection of animals for slaughter and of meat obviously forms the first line of defence of the human subject against the dangerous animal parasites, anthrax, rabies, glanders, Malta fever, tuberculosis, and the diseases causing meat poisoning. The remarkable results which have been obtained in connection with the control of diseases which are transmitted from animals to men . . . shows the importance of veterinary control in the meat trade." (Proc. Eleventh Internat. Vet. Congress, 1930).
The value of veterinary inspection of milch cows hardly needs stressing, as that again is probably a phase of veterinary preventive medicine with which there would be no call. Here again the close association of feeding and health, the scientific determination of basic rations, etc., accentuate the necessity for the association of the veterinary services with milk production.
Recent work relating to the association of vitamins and mineral salts with health has thrown a further heavy responsibility on to the services responsible for veterinary preventive medicine. These services must be prepared to advise widely and accurately on such subjects, and if the vastness of the literature and the fluid state of our knowledge on these matters is taken into consideration it will be seen that it requires no mean effort to do this. Nevertheless, given the opportunity and the time there is no reason to suppose that the work cannot be satisfactorily performed. The economic results of sound work in this direction are limitless and it is not to be doubted that already a quite appreciable economic gain has resulted from the work so far carried out. This work has drawn renewed attention to the fact that disease prevention is not solely a matter of infectious disease control, but is a subject which covers almost every cause of disease in stock.
It is only a step from these matters to the general question of the influence of dietetics on health, and from that to the influence of feed on growth, production and reproduction.
Any survey of the subject under discussion which failed to take note of this phase would be sadly lacking. Herein lies one of the fields in which the heaviest demands will be made on the veterinary preventive medicine of the future, a fact which should be very cogently borne in mind by those responsible for the training of the future veterinarian.
One of the minor phases of veterinary preventive medicine which calls for the most delicate handling is the relationship of the official services to the practitioner. The part which the practitioner plays in the preventive services varies to the widest degree. In some countries it is almost equal to that of the official services, in others it is nil because the practitioner outside the service does not exist. It should be possible by cultivating a spirit of mutual understanding to arrive at a workable and equitable arrangement, but it is impossible to lay down a hard and fast rule anywhere.
Not so very long ago every nation and even every State within a nation was building up its service quite regardless of anything beyond its own boundaries, but that situation is changing with very great rapidity. So closely bound up are the fortunes of the different nations nowaday and so quick and intricate have communications become that no nation can afford to remain in ignorance of what others are doing or to allow others to remain in ignorance of what itself is doing. Hence in the sphere which we are discussing has arisen the International Office of Epizootics with headquarters at Paris, through which all the contributing nations are kept advised of the world situation as regards disease in live stock. Hence also comes the work of the League of Nations which is endeavouring to devise an international form of certification which will meet all requirements of the different States. It is thus evident that veterinary preventive medicine is neither parochial, insular nor continental, but is world wide. We may consider our selves honoured at being even humble units in this vast service.
The folk of Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A., are getting mightily tired of this miniature golf business. There has been a lot of wrangling because the authorities, on the strength of an old "blue law," banned the playing of the game on Sundays. Now some 150 residents, by way of retaliation, have got up a petition calling for the full enforcement of a set of ancient "blue laws," enacted shortly after the incorporation of the State.
The authorities cannot have it both ways they argue.