Baron von Thielmann to Mr. Olney.


Mr. Secretary of State: Mr. Theodore Runyon, the recently deceased United States ambassador at Berlin, repeatedly, and for the last time in his note of September 18, 1895, called the attention of the foreign office to the question of the importation of cattle and beef from the United States into Germany, and stated in this last note that no case of lung disease (pleuro-pneumonia) had occurred in the United States for years; that at that time the cattle of the United States were free from Texas fever, and that even in case of the accidental occurrence of Texas fever no infection from that disease was to be feared, because the exported cattle, as a rule, were intended for immediate slaughter.

I have received instructions to transmit to your excellency, in reply to the above-mentioned note from Ambassador Runyon, the inclosed memorandum, which is based upon a decision of the imperial sanitary bureau, and from the contents of which your excellency will gather the reasons which make it appear to the Imperial Government, in the interests of the German cattle breeding, unadvisable to repeal at the present time the prohibition in question.

The United States, by section 17 of the tariff act of August 28, 1894, still in force, prohibited, in the interests of its own cattle industry, the importation of cattle from any country in the world, and it is only a short time ago that an exception was granted in the case of some few countries by the proclamation of the President of the United States, dated November 8, 1895. The United States Government must therefore admit the right of other countries to protect their own cattle industry in like manner. That, however, such protection, especially against [Page 165] Texas fever, still appears necessary, in spite of Ambassador Runyon’s assurances to the contrary, is shown with certainty by the fact that certain States of the Union, as, for example, Kentucky, by the quarantine proclamation of July 25, 1895, of the State board of health, have entirely closed their territory against the importation of Southern cattle during nine months of the year. Moreover, a quarantine proclamation of the State of Colorado, dated February 13, 1896, and consequently subsequent to Ambassador Runyon’s last note, asserts the existence of Texas fever in the Southern States.

With regard to lung diseases among the cattle of the United States, I may at the same time call attention to the fact that the State of New Hampshire, only a few days ago, issued a quarantine ordinance expressly prescribing the “tuberculine” test for all cattle hereafter imported into New Hampshire. It thus appears that the existence of lung diseases among the cattle of other States of the Union is regarded there as certain.

Accept, etc.,


Memorandum concerning the prohibition of the importation of American cattle and fresh beef into Germany.

The prohibition of the importation of American cattle and beef was issued in consequence of cases of Texas fever having been officially ascertained in two cargoes of American cattle at Hamburg on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of September (steamer Persia), and on the 20th of October, 1894 (steamer Prussia).

The veterinary police views, taken into consideration as the basis of the prohibition of the importation of American cattle, are stated at length in the opinion of the Imperial sanitary bureau, dated November 7, 1894, which was communicated to the United States Government. Since that time no change has taken place in American relations that could justify a repeal of the prohibition. The Texas fever has, on the contrary, increased considerably in development.

While, according to the order of the Secretary of Agriculture at Washington, dated February 26, 1892,1 only those sections of the United States lying south of latitudes 36° to 38° and east of longitude 100° were regarded as infected, that territory has been extended to the west coast by the order of February 5, 1895.2 This boundary now extends through the whole continent, chiefly between latitude 32° and latitude 37°, and reaches its most northern point at San Francisco, in the West, under latitude 38°, and at the Potomac, in the East, under latitude 39°. The whole of western Texas, Mexico, and the southern half of California are thereby added to the infected territory.

The American authorities have not, therefore, succeeded in confining the disease to the former territory, much less in checking it. Moreover, it has not been made known whether and what measures have been adopted for the extirpation of Texas fever within the infected territory. The regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture at Washington against Texas fever are chiefly confined to the prevention of the spread of that disease to those States of the Union lying north of the boundary designated. During the period from February 15 to December 1, 1895, cattle may be exported from the infected district to other parts of the United States only, subject to certain precautionary measures and for the purpose of immediate slaughter, but freely at any other time. On the other hand, with the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture, cattle from certain parts of the infected territory, when they have been there since January, 1895, and have not come into contact with cattle from the infected territory, may be brought to the States of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota for pasturage. In the State of Kentucky, which borders immediately upon the infected territory, the prohibition of the importation of cattle from that territory during the period ending December 1, [Page 166] 1895, and from March 1 to December 1 in future years, was enacted on the 25th of July, 1895; and it was further ordered that all real or suspected cases of Texas fever among the native cattle be immediately reported and the animals in question separated from the others. By an ordinance of April 15, 1895, cattle may be imported from Mexico into the territory of the infected Southern States only under certain conditions, partly for slaughter, partly for pasturage. (Special order concerning importation of cattle from Mexico. Rules and Regulations, etc., p. 31.)

In order to prevent the transmission of diseases of animals to foreign countries the Secretary of Agriculture, by an order of October 20, 1890 (publications of the Imperial sanitary bureau, 1891, p. 248), ordered a sanitary inspection of the living cattle and sheep intended for exportation to Europe at specially designated ports, and renewed the order, with unimportant changes, on the 7th February, 1895. (Order and regulations for the inspection of cattle and sheep for export. Rules and Regulations, etc., p. 13.)

The measures mentioned are not to be regarded as sufficient to prevent the transmission of Texas fever, as, according to the scientific investigations of Smith and Kilborne, the cattle in the Southern States are to be considered entirely infected, and even in the absence of external symptoms of disease dangerous to foreign cattle as transmitters of the infectious matter. (Investigations into the nature, causation, and prevention of Southern cattle fever, United States Department of Agriculture, Eighth and Ninth Annual Reports, etc., p. 177.) Moreover, there are no means of preventing the cattle from the infected Southern States from being exported by sea, owing to the extent of the coast. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that Texas fever sometimes breaks out in the Northern States, and is even transmitted to Europe. Thus, according to the statements of the Hamburg state veterinary surgeon, Vollers, the importation of such diseased cattle and of the American cattle ticks, which are the means of communicating Texas fever into British ports, has repeatedly occurred. Apart from the cases of evident sickening, all cattle coming from the infected Southern States, at least, must be regarded as dangerous, as transmitters of the infectious matter, and all cattle that have been in company with such must be considered suspicious. The view held by the Americans, that the shipment of cattle affected by Texas fever can be entirely prevented by the measures adopted by the American Government, appears, therefore, incorrect. So long, however, as the measures adopted in the United States do not suffice to check the disease and to prevent the exportation of sick and suspicious cattle and of the cattle ticks which communicate the contagion, the danger exists for Germany that, after the repeal of the prohibition of the importation, the disease may obtain a firm footing here, too, and that it may spread more widely. In that case it would still be a question whether, in view of the peculiar nature of Texas fever, the veterinary police arrangements in Germany would be sufficient for the effectual extirpation of the disease, or whether they would prove as ineffectual as the measures adopted in the United States of America must be assumed to be.

It is asserted on the American side that Texas fever is not contagious, and that it does not spread in northern climates. Attention is called to the fact that during the cold season the importation of Southern cattle does not involve danger, and that it is therefore freely permitted in the Northern States of the Union during the winter months. It is to be remarked, in reply, that the views of scientists as to the nature of Texas fever are not yet by any means fully cleared up. In particular, the statements of Smith and Kilborne as to the mode of transmission [of the disease] are in many respects still obscure, and have not yet been corroborated by the testimony of experts.1 Frank Billings, of Nebraska, an investigator who, as well as those specialists, has published very minute investigations as to Texas fever, has arrived at very different conclusions. According to these the infectious matter also exists in the excrement of the diseased animals. Although Billings does not undervalue the importance of the ticks as the transmitters of the infection, he is of opinion that the infection is most frequently effected by the soiling of sores with the dung of diseased animals. The fact that Smith and Kilborne have shown the blood parasite at liberty in the kidneys gives reason to presume that it is ejected with the urine and thereby causes an infection of the places on which diseased animals have stood.

As regards the communication of the disease by ticks especially, the question is not yet decided whether European species of ticks and other insects may not undertake the part of the American cattle tick. Moreover, the characteristics of the various species of ticks, according to sex, stage of development, and according to whether they have sucked themselves full of blood or not, vary so much as to size, color, and form that in the opinion of experts it is difficult to identify the various species with any certainty. Under these circumstances scientific investigation is still needed as to whether the American cattle tick (Ixodes bonis, Riley’s; Boophilus [Page 167] bovis, Curtice) is really a peculiar species confined to the Southern States of the Union. The mode described by Smith and Kilborne of the transmission of the infectious matter from the diseased animals to the ticks, from the ticks to their eggs and the young, which in their turn are said to transmit the infection to the healthy cattle, requires further corroboration, the more so because a process of this kind is remarked nowhere else in nature, least of all among the skin parasites, and the ticks, in particular, have been known heretofore only as vexatious bloodsuckers.

During the cold season part of the ticks perish and the surviving portion are prevented from propagating. All experience is wanting as to the effect of the cold weather upon the blood parasites of Texas fever. If the authors of the disease, like the transmitters of the infection, retain their vigor during the colder season even partially, then there is a possibility that they will produce their injurious effects in unison in the following summer.

Besides, the danger of the introduction of lung disease (pleura-pneumonia) is involved in the importation of American cattle. The American Department of Agriculture has, it is true, in its order of September 26, 1892 (United States Department of Agriculture, Eighth and Ninth Annual Reports, etc., p. 72), declared the country free from the disease. Still, numerous cases have been discovered since that time among the cattle imported into Europe. For instance, according to the official records in Great Britain, there were discovered:

In the year 1892 33
In the year 18931 36
In the year 1894 5
In the year 1895 (to September 30) 5

The correctness of the diagnosis of the British experts is disputed by the Americans. It appears, however, from a piece of the lung of an American ox in the collection of specimens of the Imperial sanitary bureau that, in the importation case at Liverpool in November, 1894, there was no doubt of the existence of lung disease. Importations of this disease from America were shown to have occurred in Belgium also in the year 1894. The Belgian minister of agriculture consequently, by order of December 29, 1894 (Moniteur Beige, p. 4189; Publications of the Imperial Sanitary Bureau, 1895, p. 56), prohibited the importation or passage of cattle from the United States until further notice. There is, besides, in the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) of March 23, 1895, an article by Professor Mayo, from which it appears that, as a matter of fact, lung disease is still prevalent in Kansas.

There are the following objections to the importation of fresh beef from America:

It appears from what has been said that the importation of cattle involves the danger of the introduction of Texas fever. Now, in the case of Texas fever it must be remembered, on the one hand, that the blood is regarded as a communicator of the diseased matter, and on the other hand, that even those animals which have not caught the disease arc looked upon as communicators of the infectious matter if they come from the infected territory or if they have been in company with such diseased animals. As the disease producer has its seat in the blood, it is in all parts of the body and consequently in the flesh. Nothing certain is known as to its further action in slaughtered meat. It can not, therefore, be at once taken for granted that the disease producer loses its injurious qualities with the cooling of the flesh. According to scientific experience, such very small animalcule frequently withstand even very high degrees of cold. It has been proved that diseases of animals may be communicated by the meat. Erysipelas in hogs, especially, is in many cases communicated by the meat and refuse of diseased animals. Under these circumstances, and in view of the great diffusion of Texas fever in the United States, great caution is requisite as regards the importation of fresh beef from America, in spite of the measures adopted there recently for the inspection of animals and meat.

By an order of the Secretary of Agriculture at Washington, dated February 7, 1895 (Regulations for the inspection of live stock and their products—German Commercial Archives, 1895, p. 377), which was supplemented by one of June 14, 1896, (Regulations for the inspection of livestock and their products—German Commercial Archives, 1895, p. 858), the owners of slaughtering establishments (salting establishments, etc.), the meat from which is to be placed on the domestic or foreign market, must apply to the Secretary of Agriculture for the inspection of the animals and meat. A number is to be given officially to each establishment, and a cattle inspector, with the necessary assistants, appointed for each establishment, whose duty it is to inspect the animals both before and after they have been slaughtered, and to remove the animals and meat which have been found to be diseased. By the order of August 28, 1895 (order concerning the exportation of meat), these regulations were to go in force on the 16th September, but the time for their going into force has been postponed several times, the last time to July 1, 1896.

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Apart from the fact that there may be difficulties attending the filling the positions of the cattle inspectors and their assistants with the required number of thoroughly schooled and reliable persons, we must first wait to see whether the regulations can, in point of fact, be strictly carried out in every case, and whether the exportation of meat from those slaughtering establishments (salting establishments, etc.), which are not subjected to governmental inspection, will really be prevented.

Lastly, it may be remarked, that no microscopical examination of the meat as to the presence of the blood parasites of Texas fever is ordered. Without such an examination the animals which have been infected, but which appear to be healthy under the ordinary inspection, can not be ascertained.

  1. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, 8th and 9th Annual Repts. of the Bureau of Animal Industry for the years 1891–92, Washington, 1893, p. 178.
  2. Regulation for Cattle Transportation: Rules and Regulations governing the Operations of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Washington, 1895, p. 26.
  3. Original Investigations in Cattle Diseases in Nebraska: Southern Cattle Plague, 3d ed., Lincoln, Nebr., 1893.
  4. Board of Agriculture: Annual Rept. of the Director of the Veterinary Dept. for the year 1893, London, 1894, p. 129.