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IS IT CHOLERA THAT KILLS OUR HOGS?
PRESIDENT OF THE CLEVELAND PROVISION COMPANY,
Please let me call your attention to a little personal experience I had in regard to the above question. I have in Leavenworth County, Kansas, an experimental farm, and among other animals raised are hogs. On returning home one day, after a short absence, I found four hogs dead, and calling on my overseer for an explanation, he informed me they had died of “Cholera ;" but as they had shown a perfectly healthy condition previously, I investigated the matter and found he had neglected to give them proper bedding or comfortable place to lie in, and a cold rain had come on in my absence and made the yard very muddy. A few of the hogs having a dry place were lying down; the others not finding one, only where the first already were, commenced to lie down close to them, and others to lying on them, until there was a pile of hogs three or four deep in the middle, with the result-four dead hogs from smothering.
Any person who is familiar with raising or handling hogs in large numbers, perfectly well understands that more hogs are lost from the above cause than any other. Hogs will pile up whenever the yards or pens are wet and muddy, if the weather is at all cold, and also in cold freezing weather they will do so to keep warm, and persons having charge of them, to screen themselves from blame, are apt to charge it to that convenient word, “ Cholera.” Undoubtedly the principal cause of the loss of hogs on our Western farms is to be attributed to want of housing and general care and other causes incidental to all young animals.
It seems to me there is no place in the world where hogs can be raised so free from disease as on our Western farms, where the principal feed for them is grain, with pure water to drink, and entirely away from the refuse and garbage of cities.
H. F. ATWOOD,
OF ROCHESTER, NEW YORK,
LATE SECRETARY AMERICAN MICROSCOPICAL ASSOCIATION.
“Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise," but where ignorance and prejudice tend to interfere with the sale of so important an item in our American commerce as pork, then it is the reverse of bliss ; and, ignoring the interests of "board of trade" gamblers who are “short” on deliveries, we should try to arrive at a better understanding of a subject that is attracting so much attention at the present time. I refer to the “ Trichina Spiralis.”
An editorial in the Liverpool Mercury of February 21st may be taken as a fair sam•ple of English knowledge of Trichina ; and, when a newspaper of so high standing teaches such erroneous ideas, can it be wondered at that the public feeling can be so easily manipulated by home producers, who are bending all their energies to keep away American competition?
I quote from the editorial, as follows:
“A case of Trichina just reported from Kansas describes the symptoms of the disease when it attacks the human family. The victim is a farmer. He had been ill for some time, and became much reduced in flesh. Upon consulting a physician, trichinæ were found; worms were in his flesh by the million, being scraped and squeezed from the pores of the skin.” (Italics mine.-H. F. A.) They are felt creeping through his flesh, and are literally eating up his substance. The disease is thought to have been contracted by eating sausages. Trichina Spiralis may be conveyed to human beings, it is thought, by the gross adulterations used in the manufacture of butter and cheese, of which there is some exportation to England. The former is adulterated with lard and grease, which in many cases are taken from the places where hogs die of diseases, and are then rendered into grease, glue, etc.”
The absurdity of the above can be best realized by those having some knowledge of the natural history and habits of the parasite. I will endeavor to outline in a brief way some points that I hope may not prove uninteresting to the readers of this Journal.
About the year 1832 some surgeons, in a dissecting room in London, were troubled by their knives being dulled by some minute mineral particles in the muscles of a cadaver that they were dissecting. Examination with a miscroscope revealed the fact that the particles were minute oval bodies, composed of carbonate of lime, and each containing a minute spirally coiled worm. Prof. R. Owen of the British Museum, to whom they were referred, named them Trichina Spiralis. For several years subsequent to this it was not known how they came into the human muscles, and I believe that in Germany it was first demonstrated that “ Trichinosis " was caused by eating raw pork. A great many trichinæ may be present in the muscles of a human being without causing the least inconvenience, or even the slightest suspicion of their presence. In the case of their first being found, the cadaver was that of a man who had died of a cancer, and the fact of the carbonate of lime cysts being so hard was (with our present knowledge) conclusive evidence that he had carried them around for a long
time. Eminent authorities in the old country have shown that from two to three per cent. of all cadavers examined miscroscopically are found to have trichinæ in them.
This would indicate that a great number must be ingested at once in order to produce fatal results.
Where the hog procures the parasites we are not in position to state. Many writers claim that it comes from eating rats; (they don't state, however, where the rat gets them). My own views are very much at variance with this, and I hope to be able to carry out certain projected experiments which will throw some light on this subject.
Certain it is, that the human family get them by eating uncooked pork. When they enter the human stomach they are soon set free from their cysts, where they bave been living in a state not unlike that of the pupa of a moth or butterfly. When set free in the stomach, they grow considerably and become more elaborate in structure, and by the end of the third day become sexually perfect. The males at this time will measure about one-fifteenth of an inch in length, while the females, of which there are seven or eight to every male, will measure an eighth of an inch in length. Each female will produce about eight hundred young. They are viviparous. The young are produced from five to eight days after their parents first find lodgment. On the birth of the young the trouble commences; they immediately begin to migrate to their future homes in the voluntary muscles. Their first movement is to bore through the intestinal walls, and this is what causes the first symptons of Trichinosis an acute diarrhoea. Their tastes seem to vary as regards choice of location, but on one point they all seem agreed—they must pre-empt a striated muscle fibre. They travel along through the muscle and finally pierce the sheath of a fibre and coil themselves up. This causes th second symptom of the disease—intense muscular pains like rheumatism. They are foreign bodies in the muscle, and a natural result follows : by cell multiplication a sac or cyst forms around each individual, and as time goes by the carbonate of lime deposit is added.
Should the patient have been strong enough to live through thus far, his troubles are ended, for the trichinæ lodged in his muscles are each in their little tomb; they will eat nothing, nor can they multiply until they should by chance reach the stomach oi some animal. The parent trichinæ taken in with the pork, after producing the young, passed along the alimentary canal and were discharged with the feces.
The reader will notice that it is stated that the parasite enters the human stomach in uncooked pork. Smoking and salting of meat does not kill the worm, but by careful experimentation I have demonstrated that 140 degrees of wet heat kills them. Hen e no evil results can follow the eating of pork when properly cooked.
When it is understood that the parasite is not found in the fat at all, and that heat is kept on the tanks several hours in order to render out grease, it is hard to understand how “Trichina Spiralis may be conveyed to the human family by gross adulterations used in the manufacture of butter and cheese," as described in the editorial quoted from in the Liverpool Mercury.
H. F. ATWOOD.
[From Mr. Atwood's article it follows that the parasite never enters or lives in the fat of pigs, and in the commercial process of making lard and fat pork it cannot be transferred to the fat without being killed by heat and steam. This utterly disposes of the whole sensation, so far as the products of pork fat are concerned. The ham, bacon and sausage question is, of course, different; and even with them cooking is a thorough safeguard.-EDITOR.]
THE MERINO SHEEP OF THE UNITED STATES.
SECRETARY OF THE VERMONT MERINO SHEEP BREEDERS' ASSOCIATION, .
The flocks of Merino Sheep now owned in the different States are descended from importations from Spain ; first, in 1802, by Col. David Humphreys, about one hundred, into Connecticut, and in 1810 and 1811 by Consul William Jarvis of Wethersfield, Vermont, and others, of many more, into nearly all the seaports of the United States. These importations comprised selections from all the best and most celebrated of the old Cabannas or flocks of the migratory sheep of Spain at the breaking out of the French and Spanish Wars. At that time these were the choicest and finest woolbearing sheep of the world ; they had been preserved with the greatest care, and, with a few exceptions granted as royal favors, had not been permitted to leave Spain.
The vi ssitudes of war confiscation of estates brought many of these large Cabannas into the market; they were sold in very large numbers-a few thousand were taken to England, and at least twenty thousand brought to this country, within the years 1810 and 1811.
The descendants of the importations by Col. Humphreys had been somewhat scattered in Connecticut and Vermont previous to the arrival of the importations of 1810 and 1811, and the experiments with them had proved so successful that the latter were welcomed on their arrival and sold for very high prices. They were then introduced throughout the Eastern and Northern portions of the Union, and somewhat in the Southern States, but they did not succeed as well there, or become so popular and profitable as in the East and North. In the more hilly portions and colder climate of the New England States they became great favorites, and have reached the greatest improvements achieved in any race or breed in the United States, until it is now confidently believed by intelligent men who are excellent judges of sheep, and who have visited the flocks of Merinos in foreign countries, that nowhere else has the improvement in these sheep for practical, profitable wool-bearing purposes reached so great perfection, and that the best specimens in this country are without rivals, and are capable of perpetuating these excellencies and thus improving the sheep of countries outside the United States.
When these sheep were imported from Spain, the representatives of the different Cab nas varied much in their different characteristics—some excelling in size and constitution, some in large yield of fleece, some were finer and more even in fleece, some were more fully wooled about the head and down on the legs, some had dense fleeces, some less dense but longer in staple, some had a great abundance of yolk or oil, and while some were comparatively smooth on the skin others were covered with large folds or wrinkles, especially on the neck, and in some cases over the entire body.
The more intelligent and successful of the American breeders, by taking advantage of these varying excellencies, by judicious crossing and careful selection, intermingled the blood of these different Cabannas and bred up a race of sheep that combine in a