Chapter 34 - Veterinary Medicine
Introduction to Veterinary Medicine
The Pulse
Respiratory Organs
General Diseases Common to all Animals
General Plethora
Blood Poisoning
Expressions Peculiar to Animals
Rabies Hydrophobia
Pox Variola
Lump jaw
Horse Ail
Texan Cattle Fever
Foot and Mouth Disease
General Inflammation
Sore Throat
Lung Fever, Pneumonia
Catarrhal, Bronchial, or Lobular Pneumonia
Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels
Disorders of Organs of Digestion
Paralysis of the Muscles of Swallowing
Crib Biting and Wind Sucking in Horses
Disorders of the Stomach
Dieases of the Intestines
Inflammation of the Bowels
Diseases of Urinary Organs
Diseases of the Nervous System
Diseases of the Spinal Cord
Diseases of the Skin
Diseased Conditions of the Joints
Diseases of the Foot
Parasitic Diseases

34.10 Anthrax

Anthrax. This is a general blood disorder of purely contagious origin having a wide distribution and affecting all animals, but most observed in cattle, sheep, and horses, and in dogs that have eaten the flesh of animals dead from it. It appears at all seasons of the year, but more extensively during, and just after, hot weather. It generally attacks a number of animals at about the same time, as on a certain farm, within a given district; occasionally a single animal may become sick with it, this especially among horses and dogs. Its contagious quality seems to be modified by climate, as its greatest ravages occur in hot, more or less marshy, districts. It appears in two forms, first as a general blood disorder without external local manifestations, second with external and easily noticeable carbuncles of larger or smaller extent. As a remarkably good instance of the behavior, uncompromising nature, and great fatality attending this disease when introduced to a northerly climate, the following notes on an actual outbreak will well repay perusal. "Prior to any outbreak of disease among the horses, several sheep had died upon the farm, which, according to the history given, bad shown symptoms indicating blood poisoning. The animals were said to have refused their food, to have become suddenly prostrated, and to have been unable to walk with a steady gait. Their beads and necks had rapidly swollen, their breathing had become difficult, and they had died within a few hours. The carcasses of these sheep were taken to a nearby pasture when they were skinned and opened. Large quantities of a jellylike material (exudation) were found around the throat and upper part of the neck, as well as in the cavities of the chest and abdomen. After being skinned the carcasses were hung upon some trees in an adjoining orchard, to be used as food for dogs, from time to time. The dogs, being at large, tore off the flesh and carried it to different parts of the premises, especially those near to the barns. Originally there were eleven horses, of various breeds and ages, which were principally used to work the farm. The stables in which these were kept, although low studded, were clean; well ventilated above the average; and drained by surface gutters, which carried the fluid products into a stagnant pool in the barnyard. The grain was sound, the hay well got, sweet, and entirely free from the effects of " heating." The pastures were examined and found to contain no plants of a poisonous character; the herbage was good. The animals were turned at night into a field lying next to the one in which the sheep had been skinned and opened. The water supply was found to be derived from three sources; first and principally, from the stagnant pool mentioned as receiving the drainage from the stables; second, from the house pump; and third, from a brook running by the side of the field in which the sheep had been cut up. The pool water was stagnant, black in color, and offensive, having in it a large quantity of organic matters, both animal and vegetable. The waters of the stream and pump were clear, tasteless, free from odor, and there was no apparent source of pollution for either of them. Among the horses the disorder first showed itself on August 23d, when a four year old filly, pastured in a field lying next to " the sheep field, " became suddenly ill and died in about twenty-four hours. The body of this animal was taken to the barnyard, skinned and opened, at a spot about ten yards from the pool. From the place where this body was opened there is a steep fall to the pool. The bowels of this animal were buried about fifty yards from the pool, but on a much higher level; the carcass was removed from the premises. On the 3d October following a five year old horse became suddenly ill and died in about three hours. The body was disposed of as in the first instance. From this date other horses continued to die at intervals of a few days up to the first of November, by which time seven had died. The last five of these were skinned and buried in the "sheep field." Two pigs, a dog, and a cat which had eaten of the raw flesh, died suddenly without having shown any symptoms of ill health. Some portion of the carcass of the horse which died on the 3d October was removed to a neighboring village and boiled for bog food. Two of these thus fed died, and the man who had cut up the meat and boiled it died on October 23d from anthrax, without local symptoms, although there was a slight wound on the knuckle of his right thumb, with some little swelling just about it. There was no swelling of his arm. Causes. The disease depends upon the actual presence of a certain microscopic germ, or seed, to which the name of bacillus anthracis has been given. This seed may be brought to a given locality in a great many different ways, as in wet or dry hides, taken from sick animals, or, perhaps, particularly in the bodies of live animals, upon which it has not yet made a marked impression, but in which, after a longer or shorter time, depending upon the amount of infection received or the natural resisting power of the given animal, it will develop, and so create a new focus of contagion. The climate and soil conditions of the part of the country into which such an animal is taken will have a very considerable influence upon the spread of the disorder there. If it is hot and marshy anthrax will easily spread beyond ordinary means of control; indeed there are several places of this kind in the world, in which the germ is never absent from the grazing lands, and rarely from among the animals, unless they have been made immune by a "protective inoculation," as sheep have been in certain parts of France. If the contaminated . mal comes to a cooler climate and gets into a pasture which is rather moist, with a clayey bottom, the disorder is to be got rid of, but at the expense only of considerable time and much working over of the land. If, again, it is introduced, as in the body of a horse or cow, to a cool locality where there is a good gravelly subsoil, the very commonest measures will prevent its spread. Indeed, unless such single case is handled both before and after death, with great carelessness, the outbreak will generally, if the disorder is recognized early, be confined to the animal bringing it. Symptoms. These are so variable,.,, even at different times, in the same species of animal, that a variety of names more or less descriptive in character, have been given to it, and this fact makes a relation of the symptoms, unless they are placed under each name, almost impossible to give plainly. The length of the period after exposure to the contagion varies considerably and is materially affected by the natural resistive powers of the animal, the nature of his surroundings and the amount of "poisoning" which he has received. It may be from a few hours to quite a number of days. Anthrax Proper. The very acute form, often called the apoplectic, is rarely seen. The animal, without having shown symptoms of having any trouble, will suddenly be seized with violent muscular tremors, general or partial sweating, tossing of the head, difficult and paroxysmal breathing, a staggering gait as he walks, or he is not able to walk at all, he falls, and after a short period of unconsciousness, with more or less convulsive struggling, he dies In a case which is less rapid in its course, lasting for perhaps three or four days, the animal becomes drowsy and stupid with much prostration of strength; he begins to be uneasy, paws, changes his position, looks back at his flanks, in fact acts as if suffering from a mild continuous or intermittent colic. In walking the hind extremities sway from side to side, and he constantly stumbles. The skin is hard and dry and will be found to almost rattle in parts (crepitate) if the fingers are passed over it. There are general or partial trembling as well as alternating cold and hot sweats, more particularly noticeable about the base of the ears, over the chest, behind the elbows, and at the flanks. In some nervous animals the early stupor is replaced by violent excitement or irritability. The respiration, at the outset, is sometimes not much altered, at others it is hurried, or, if the brain be particularly affected and he is drowsy, it may be protracted and labored. The pulse, increased in frequency, is feeble and small, this becoming more and more marked as the disorder advances; the heart's action finally becoming tumultuous. The temperature is much elevated and, as a rule, continues so until just before death, when there is generally a marked decline. The earlier symptoms may remain stationary, or nearly so, for about twenty-four hours; the pulse then becomes weaker, the respiration more hurried, irregular (catching), and difficult. The nostrils are dilated and the visible membranes will have a bluish, livid appearance (eyanotic), or in certain cases be of a dirty yellow color marked with larger or smaller dark blood spots. There is a straw colored fluid discharge from the nostrils which may or may not be mingled with a little dark blood. The mouth is full of a pasty, frothy material having a peculiar bad smelling odor. Not infrequently the termination of an attack of this form begins with a sudden apparent attack of colic, or with delirium or semi consciousness, when, if the animal is at liberty, he wanders about and presses his head against some firm body, as a wall or fence. The colic is accompanied by tremors, or spasms, and there may be an irritable condition of the bowels, with which, rarely, the discharges may be mixed with blood. Or the earlier symptoms may be succeeded by unconsciousness, with dilated pupils, a haggard expression of the face, and increased difficulty in breathing. Men either of these last two conditions arises the animal rarely survives long, all control of muscular movements is gradually lost, he falls suddenly to the ground, where, after struggling convulsively for a short time, he dies. Anthrax, with local complications, called by some anthracoid disease, is presented in several separately named forms, as: Tongue Anthrax (Gloss Anthrax).This usually begins with an attack of general feverish disturbance, after a little time of which the animal, though occasionally disposed to eat, is unable to do so, and this is generally the first attractive sign of indisposition. Examination for the cause of this inability to eat shows that the tongue is swollen, tense, and firm, with, very early in the disorder, several larger or smaller blisters along its upper surface and sides, and the mouth is filled with ropy saliva. The glands under the tongue are swollen and seem to be filled (infiltrated) with a straw colored fluid. The blisters grow very rapidly in size and become dark red in color; the swelling of the tongue increases until that organ protrudes from the mouth, is livid in color, and indented or tom by the teeth. The ropy saliva now becomes of a rusty hue, because blood from the torn tongue or the broken blisters is mixed with it. The ability to swallow even fluids is gone; and the constitutional symptoms become more severe. The ruptured blisters show an unhealthy, angry looking surface, particularly around their edges, where they may have a rotten (gangrenous) look; they soon become coated with a soft yellowish substance, which is removed from time to time, and with each removal the size and unhealthy appearance of the sores is increased. From pain, thirst, impeded breathing, and general discomfort, the animal becomes restless, looking anxiously about him for aid and relief, and if a full tub or pail of water is placed within reach he will plunge his head into it, up to the eyes; water served in this way should always be kept where he can get at it, as, although he cannot drink, it will give him great comfort. Throat Anthrax, Anthracoid Angina, may appear I)y itself or follow, in complication, with the disorder of the tongue just described. After a period of constitutional disturbance, which may or may not have been noticed, the throat begins to swell; this progresses with great rapidity and soon produces great distress in breathing, because the structures around the upper opening of the windpipe (larynx) are seriously implicated in the general swelling of the throat, which may extend down the course of the windpipe to the chest. Accompanying this there is usually a blood tinged discharge from the nostrils. When the swelling of the throat is extensive the disorder runs an exceedingly rapid course, the animal dying from suffocation in a few hours, in spite of anything that can be done.

< Previous Sub-Category      Next Sub-Category >

Any statements made on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition. Always consult your professional health care provider.

copyright 2005, J. Crow Company, New Ipswich NH 03071

Privacy Policy for Household Physician

Email Us