We subjoin a report from Mr. Coles, Crown Lands Ranger, on the subject of the cattle disease which prevails at Mintaro. It will be seen that there is no evidence of the disease being contagious, as other cattle have been feeding with those that have suffered most, and are yet not affected to any considerable extent. Mr. Coles thinks that the complaint is an epidemic which is not uncommon amongst cattle, and which has recently been felt more or less in other parts of the colony. The report is as follows:—
‘Penwortham, December 12, 1863.
‘Sir—In compliance with instructions contained in your telegraphic despatch, I have visited Mintaro, and enquired into the cattle disease mentioned in the Register by Thomas Smith. Mr. Smith was not at home at the time I called. Proceeding to Edward Davis, the person named in Mr. Smith’s letter, I found that 10 of his cattle had died from a disease that had attacked them. That the disease is not contagious may be inferred from the fact that a person named John Briggs, whose cattle had been working and feeding with Davis’s for some time past, Briggs having only lost one out of nine head, whilst Davis has lost 10 head out of 12, eight of which were working bullocks. Davis informed me that some of his cattle were taken with a cough 12 months ago; that after having this cough for about six months they commenced to groan, the disease taking a violent form, which kills them in three or four days. There are several other persons whose cattle have died from this kind of disease, not only in the neighbourhood of Mintaro, but in several parts of this district. Epidemics of this kind are not unusual among cattle; sometimes its first attack will be seen by the cattle bleeding at the nose, and other times with swellings in the fore legs, commonly termed ‘black leg;’ and many cattle are lost by it, but it is very doubtful if it is a contagious disease.
I have, &c.,
‘John Coles.
‘To the Hon. the Commissioner of Crown Lands.’
On this subject a letter will be found in another column from Mr. Daniel Ferguson, who wrote to us before we had received Mr. Coles’s report. He, too, is of opinion that the disease is not contagious, but that its symptoms are identical with what he had observed in England, where he had known dairy cows to be affected in a similar manner. So far, then, the result of enquiry is satisfactory. The promptitude which the Government have shown in causing an investigation to be made into the circumstances reported by Mr. Smith, of Mintaro, will allay fear amongst those persons who supposed that pleura-pneumonia had made its appearance in this colony. The symptoms, as described, were undoubtedly very alarming, and in the absence of positive information there were at least some reasons for supposing that the disease might prove contagious.
As plenro-pneumonia is so much dreaded whenever any kind of disease presents itself among cattle—and not unreasonably to, seeing now fearfully that contagion has decimated the herds in the neighbouring colonies—we may give here a brief description of the symptoms which characterize the fatal disease.’ These symptoms are as follows:— The animal separates itself from its fellows, does not move about, loses its appetite, and becomes dull and stupid in appearance. The coat stares, the head falls as if the animal had not strength to support it. Tbe nostrils send out a mucous and half-pus like discharge, and the animal soon dies. On examining an animal thus attacked, it is said—’If you strike the chest, it sends forth a dull sound, and if you apply your ear to the side, yon will find you can hear nothing; but apply it the other side, and clear respiratory and expiratory pounds will be heard. The reason of the above is obvious:— Firstly, you get no sound, because there is no hollowness; the air-cells are quickly filled, and the pleura or lining membrane gives forth a large exudation of liquid, which coming between the ear and the slight breathing which is there prevents the slightest sound from reaching it.’ When an animal which has died of this disease is opened, the indications which present themselves will be found to answer the following description:— ‘The first stage of disease shows the lungs of a dull red or crimson hue, and mottled with different shades. It is heavier and firmer because more congested and containing less air. Second stage.—Solidification of lungs; colour crimson or yellowish red colour, and sink in water. Cohesion of tissue much diminished, air tubes much blocked up by solidified fibrine, there is a disorganized inflammatory appearance, congestion of capillaries, infiltration, parenchyma, fatty transformations, and breaking down of ultimate element. Third stage.—Destruction of the organ; this, to all intents and purposes, is a cessation of vital function of the part. It may occur in masses, in sloughs, and these generate a purulent state of the lung. The sloughs are seen as greenish black pulpy masses. Sometimes the tissues are completely eaten away, leaving a thorough dissection of the ramifications of the bronchial tube.’
An attention to these details would enable any person of ordinary judgment to form a pretty correct opinion as to whether or not a diseased animal was the victim of pleuro-pneumonia.