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Tubercular Cows

This week's Institute talk was quite a good one, on the history of cow diseases in Canada and the way they've been deal with. (Margaret Derry; "Canadian Cattle Quarantine in the Nineteenth Century and the International Problem of Animal Disease") There was one particularly interesting anecdote in it.

In the late 19th century, refridgeration was becoming relatively common, especially for things like the mass transportation of milk. Refridgerating milk (as you know) make it cold. It was generally believed at the time that the healthiest food you could eat was the freshest food available. So anyone rich enough to afford their own cow did, since that way they could drink the milk still warm, fresh from the cow's udders. Especially the aristocracy.

The irony of this is that refridgerated milk was treated to last longer - which killed off many of the diseases that could be transferred via milk, including tuberculosis. This is part of the reason why tuberculosis was a especially a weathly person's disease - not that it wasn't widespread among other population segments.

The talk also dealt with foot and mouth - and was very informative on that point. In general, over the past 200 years, most cow diseases have been dealt with from a trade perspective, not a medical one.