Objects Of The Science
animals veterinary medicine disease diseases human
OBJECTS OF THE SCIENCE. One of the chief objects of the science is the treatment of disease in animals. Veterinary medicine has been far less exposed to the vagaries of theoretical doctrines and systems than human medicine. The explanation may perhaps be that the successful practice of this branch of medicine more clearly than in any other depends upon the careful observation of facts and the rational deductions to be made therefrom. No special doctrines seem, in later times at least, to have been adopted, and the dominating sentiment in regard to disease and its treatment has bees a medical eclecticism, based on practical experience and anatomico-pathological investigation, rarely indeed on philosophical or abstract theories. In this way veterinary science has become pre-eminently a science of observation. At times indeed it has to some extent been influenced by the doctrines which have controlled the practice of human medicine - such as those of Broussais, Hahnemann, Brown, Basori, Rademacher, and others - vet this has not been for long : experience of them when tested upon dumb unimaginative animals soon exposed their fallacies and compelled their discontinuance.
Of more moment than the cure of disease is its prevention, and this is now considered the most important object in connexion with veterinary science. More especially is this the case with those serious disorders which depend for their existence and extension upon the presence of an infecting agent, and whose ravages for so many centuries are written largely in the history of civilization. Every advance made in medicine affects the progress of veterinary science, and the recent remarkable discoveries, some of which have been initiated by members of the veterinary profession, or developed by them, must in the end create as great a revolution in veterinary practice as in the medicine of man. In "preventive medicine " the benefits to be derived from the application of the germ theory will be immense ; the sanitary police measures based on this knowledge are easily framed, and, if carried rigorously into operation, must eventually lead to the extinction of these disastrous disorders) The medicine of the lower animals differs from that of man in no particular so much, perhaps, as in the application it makes of utilitarian principles. The life of man is sacred ; but in the case of animals, when there are doubts as to complete restoration to health and soundness, monetary considerations generally decide against the adoption of remedial measures. This feature in the medicine of the domesticated animals brings very prominently before us the value of the old adage that "prevention is better than cure." In Great Britain the value of comparative pathology in the relations it bears to human medicine, to the public health and wealth, as well as to agriculture, has been strangely overlooked or ignored ; and in consequence but little allowance has been made for the difficulties the practitioner of animal medicine has to contend with. The rare instances in which animals can be seen by the veterinary surgeon in the earliest stages of disease, and when this would prove most amenable to medical treatment ; delay, generally due to the inability of those who have the care of animals to perceive these early stages ; the fact that animals cannot, except in a negative manner, tell their woes, describe their sensations, or indicate what and where they suffer ; the absence of those comforts and conveniences of the sick room which cannot be called in to ameliorate their condition ; the violence or stupor, as well as the structural arrangements and attitude of the sick creatures, which only too frequently render favourable positions for cure impossible ; the slender means generally afforded for carrying out recommendations, together with the oftentimes intractable nature of these diseases ; and the utilitarian influences alluded to above, - all these considerations, in the great majority of instances, militate against the adoption of curative treatment, or at least greatly increase its difficulties.
For more than forty years most destructive plagues of animals have prevailed almost continuously in the British islands without any attempt, worthy of the name, having been made to check or extirpate them until within a very recent period. Two exotic bovine diseases alone (contagious pleuro-pneumonia or lung plague and foot-and-mouth disease) are estimated to have caused the death, during the first thirty years of their prevalence in the United Kingdom, of 5,549,780 cattle, roughly valued at £83,616,854 ; while the invasion of cattle plague in 1865-66 was calculated to have caused a money loss of from £5,000,000 to £8,000,000. The depredations made in South Africa and Australia by the lung plague alone are quite appalling ; and in India the loss brought about by contagious diseases among animals has been stated at not less than £6,000,000 annually. The damage done by tuberculosis - a contagious disease of cattle, transmissible to several kinds of animals, and possibly- also to man, by means of the flesh and milk of diseased beasts - cannot be even guessed at ; bnt it must be enormous, when we learn how widely the malady is diffused. But that terrible pest of all ages, the cattle plague, has in its two recent invasions of England been Comp. Fleming, Veterinary Sanitary Science and Police, London, 1875.
promptly- suppressed with comparatively trifling loss, The foot-and-mouth disease, which proved such a heavy infliction to British agriculture from its introduction in 1838, has been completely extirpated. Glanders, which annually caused the destruction of large numbers of cavalry horses, is now unknown in the army, and is rapidly disappearing from civilian stables. Rabies would soon be included in the category of extinct diseases if the indications of veterinary science were followed ; and so with the other contagious maladies of animals. As for such diseases as depend for their development upon germs derived from the soil or herbage upon which animals live, and which cannot be directly controlled by veterinary sanitary measures, the system of protective inoculation with cultivated virus introduced by Pasteur will probably bring about their extinction, or at any rate greatly mitigate their effects.
Veterinary science can also offer much assistance in the study and prevention of the diseases to which mankind are liable. Some grave maladies of the human species are certainly derived from animals, and others may yet be added to the list. In the training of the physician great benefit would be derived from the study of disease in animals, - a fact which has been strangely overlooked in England, as those can testify who understand how closely the health of man may depend upon the health of the creatures he has domesticated and derives subsistence from, and how much more advantageously morbid processes can be studied in animals than in our own species. Although as yet no chair of comparative pathology has been established in any British university, on the Continent such chairs are now looked upon as an almost indispensable item of every university. Bourgelat, towards the middle of the 18th century, in speaking of the veterinary schools he had been instrumental in forming, urged that "leers portes soient sans cesse ouvertes h ceux qui, charges par l'etat de la conservation des bommes, auront acquis par le nom gulls se seront fait le droit d'interroger la nature, chercher des analogies, et verifier des ideas clout la conformation ne pent etre qu'utile Pespece humaine." And the benefits to be mutually derived from this association of the two branches of medicine inspired Vicq d'Azyr to elaborate his Touveau Plan de la Constitution de la illedecine en France, which he presented to the National Assembly in 1790. His fundamental idea was to make veterinary teaching a preliminary (le premier degre) and, as it were, the principle of instruction in human medicine. His proposal went so far as to insist upon a veterinary school being annexed to every medical college established in France. This idea was reproduced in the Rapport sur l' instruction Publique which Talleyrand read before -the National Assembly in 1790. In this project veterinary teaching was to form part of the National Institution at Paris. The idea was to initiate students of medicine into a knowledge of diseases by observing those of animals. The suffering animal always appears exactly as it is and feels, without the intervention of mind obscuring the symptomatology, the symptoms being really and truly the rigorous expression of its diseased condition. From this point of view, the dumb animal, when it is ill, offers the same difficulties in diagnosis as does the ailing infant or the comatose adult.
Of the other objects of veterinary- science there is only one to which allusion need here be made : that is the perfectioning of the domestic animals in everything that is likely to make them more valuable to man. This is in an especial manner the province of this science, the knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, and other matters connected with these animals by its students being essential for such improvement.