Mr. Adee to Mr. Ewing.

No. 219.]

Sir: Referring to your dispatch, No. 179, of the 23d of April last, relative to the prohibition of the importation of American cattle into Belgium, I inclose for your information a copy of a letter of the 18th instant from the Acting Secretary of Agriculture, transmitting a translation in French of the report of Dr. W. H. Wray, the chief inspector of the United States Department of Agriculture in Great Britain, concerning the alleged cases of contagious pleuro-pneumonia among American cattle landed in Belgium.

You are instructed to make such use of Dr. Wray’s report as you may deem expedient in discussing the subject of the sanitary condition of American cattle with the Belgian foreign office. It is supposed that Dr. Wray can furnish you with a copy of the French translation of his report, if you do not already possess one.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.
[Page 23]
[Inclosure in No. 219.]

Mr. Moore to Mr. Olney.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for your information a translation in French of the report of Dr. W. H. Wray, the chief inspector of this Department in Great Britain, concerning the alleged cases of contagions pleuro-pneumonia among American cattle landed in Belgium. This translation appears to have been made by agents of the steamship companies at Antwerp, and, while not official, it appears to be a correct rendering of Dr. Wray’s report.

I have, etc.,

Willis L. Moore,
Acting Secretary.
[Subinclosure in No. 219.—Translation.]

Report of Dr. W. H. Wray, veterinary surgeon, chief inspector of the United States for Great Britain in regard to the sanitary condition of cattle arriving from the United States and Canada imported at Antwerp.

I have learned from an authentic source that steps have been taken with the Belgian chamber of commerce in order that the prohibitory measures which unjustly affect the live cattle coming from the United States and Canada may be revoked or modified in such a manner that the animals of these countries may again be imported at the port of Antwerp.

As you know, I have seen the lungs of some animals from the United States landed at Antwerp, and which the Belgian authorities had pronounced stricken with contagious pleuro-pneumonia, and I have never had the slightest doubt in regard to the absence of all contagious character.

Sufficient time has elapsed to prove that I was not wrong in my diagnosis and to know that these cases presented as contagious pleuro-pneumonia were neither more nor less than a croup-like or fibrinous pneumonia complicated with pleurisy.

The diseased organs that I saw were from 6 to 8 inches square and about an inch thick, mottled or marked in appearance by an effusion of blood or lymph in the diseased portions of the lung.

I should observe that the theory of all diseases of lungs taken from the animals and which are either marked or mottled in appearance has been refuted for years, and it has been proved beyond doubt that the bovine race can have and has pulmonary diseases which present a spotted or mottled aspect in a manner apparent in the section and which are not contagious pleuro-pneumonia.

The lungs of the bovine race are very little pressed (serres) in their texture, and contain a great quantity of interlobular or secondary tissues, which render almost impossible the existence of pulmonary disease without its being revealed by occasioning other kinds of spots or marbling, very apparent in the surfaces affected.

The results of the examinations made of the lungs of the sick animals in question were identical in appearance and they had not the characteristic aspect of contagious pleuro-pneumonia. The lesions evident in all were very perceptibly of the same phase of the disease, which abundantly proves that the animals had been exposed and had contracted the affection during the passage from the United States to Belgium.

The sections arrived at what is considered the second phase of the disease, or the period of red hepatization. The surface of the cells and bronchial vessels were filled with a hardened exudation and deprived of air. The hardened lung (the sick portion) was of a deep-brownish shade of red, and not bright red (noncrepissante). The cut surface presented a very decided granulous aspect, caused by the projection of little solid masses from the cells and bronchial tubes. The weight of the diseased part had increased, but in my opinion not in a way to render it incapable of floating in water, as is caused by this in the more advanced phases of the disease.

Microscopic examination of these portions would go to prove that the cells and bronchial tubes were filled with a substance formed of a very clear tissue, inclosing in its meshes a great quantity of white corpuscles red with blood, and some cells of a kind of moss, and changeable quantities of abnormal aspect.

[Page 24]

The red color of the lungs at this period of the disease is due to congestion and to a great number of globules of blood in the exudation.

Some of the cells seem completely filled with fibrine and globules of blood. The structure of the lung is not perceptibly altered by the inflammation.

In this phase of the disease there is a large quantity of exuding matter in the interlobes, kinds of tissues, giving a very defined appearance of yellow lymphs in bands between the groups of cells in the mottled part. These bands of lymph extend across the part affected and are gradually lost in the healthy portion of the pulmonary tissues, and mark the period of absorption.

In the state of absorption the globules of red blood lose their bright color, the pus in the cells degenerates into fat, the fibrine becomes granulous, and an effusion of serum is produced in a way to form granulous fatty emulsion, ready and suitable for absorption by the lymphatic system and the blood vessels. In some cases the lymphatic vessels are enlarged, and can easily be traced by the naked eye across the diseased region.

In favorable cases after the removal of the discharge the cells are found to have suffered no damage, the structure remains unimpaired by the discharge, and its natural action is fully restored after the disappearance of the discharge.

Pleurisy, with a very feeble fibrinous exudation, was developed on the entire membrane covering the diseased portion of the affected lobes. This complication of pleurisy is never absent, except in cases which are rare, where the pneumonia had not attacked the surface of the lung. Pleurisy is confined to the part affected, and in some cases it appeared entirely dry, while in others it is liquid and causes considerable flowing. It is these latter cases that are termed contagious pleuro-pneumonia, and they are a pleuro-pneumonia not contagious in character, for in a strict sense almost all cases of pneumonia are pleuro-pneumonia, but not contagious, as it is generally proclaimed by the experts of the Belgian and English Governments.

As the nature of a lung affected by pneumonia cures by resolution and absorption, the animal pronounced at Antwerp affected by contagious pleuro-pneumonia would, without doubt, have been cured if it had been permitted to live a week or ten days longer.

Croupo-pneumonia may exist and affect a large portion of the lobe without the animal showing any visible external symptoms of the disease; a mild affection may escape the eye unless the temperature of the animal be taken by means of a clinical thermometer which can show an increase of temperature of 103° to 106° F., according to the gravity of the case and the greater or less portion of the pulmonary tissues attacked. Obviously, if an affected animal is subjected to violent exercise the breathing will become spasmodic and hurried. In a very grave case, or where a great portion of the pulmonary tissues is affected, the respiration will become visibly difficult, accompanied by a hoarse sound at each inhalation. The lungs of animals attacked by contagious pleuro-pneumonia are likewise in appearance spotted, mottled in very similar degree to the cases of croup or acute pleuro-pneumonia not of a contagious character.

The cases of contagious pleuro-pneumonia present, in a manner very analogous to all cases of pleuro-pneumonia to which bovine animals are subject, the different pathological changes, and in some cases it is a difficult matter to arrive at stating a positive diagnosis without knowing correctly the history of the animal.

These are declared pleurisies of the pulmonary pleura, and if the animal is allowed to live long enough the pleurisy will extend to the costal pleura and even to the diaphragmatic pleura, and false membranes will be formed which will attach the lungs to the sides. The pleura is opaque and covered with a dense and fibrinous discharge.

Quantities of serum are frequently evident in the thoracic cavities, as much in some cases as a gallon (about 4 liters); this fluid is light yellow or straw color and contains particles of fibrinous matter.

As the word pleuro-pneumonia implies, the pleurisy is always present during the attack and it generally leaves its traces, even long after the animal is cured, but in no other case of pulmonary lesion is the pleurisy found to be so marked as in cases of contagious pneumonia.

Congestion and hepatization of the lobules are very marked, and as a rule they are more pronounced than in other forms of pleuro-pneumonia; the discoloration varies from almost black to brilliant red.

The exudation in the secondary tissues varies according to the gravity of the case and the extent of the tissues attacked. The lymphatic bands present a fibrinous and tenacious character, formed by the discharge.

It is an invariable rule in cases of contagious pleuro-pneumonia to find these lymphatic bands completely surrounding the affected part, separating it from the healthy portion of the pulmonary tissues by a decided and well-defined line. They are also found surrounding the cluster of lobes through the affected part. Some experts base their diagnosis of contagious pleuro-pneumonia upon the quantity of serum or exuding [Page 25] matter which follows the knife when the solid part of the lung is cut. But nothing positive can be deduced from this quantity of exuding matter, for it is very frequent in all cases of simple noncontagious matter.

In contagious pleuro-pneumonia there is a giving way of the blood vessels, of the bronchial tubes, and of the lymphatic system, which causes fainting or death of the parts. Contagious pleuro-pneumonia is not cured either by resolution or absorption, and once attacked the lung remains forever affected. The disease becomes chronic and locates, surrounded by a tenacious fibrinous membrane, which incloses the degenerated lung slashed.

These membranous cysts vary from the size of an egg to that of the whole lobe. In certain cases the texture of a whole lung becomes completely degenerated, and the form alone of the lobe will be found under a dry membrane or a thick pleura.

In some cases of contagious pleuro-pneumonia the inside portion of the diseased part becomes gangrenous and will generally be surrounded by a cyst membrane, but cases of gangrene extending from the periphery to the lobular tissue are never seen, as in a case where the pleuro-pneumonia is not contagious.

I remember a case of acute pleuro-pneumonia which was gangrenous in the general aspect of the large lobe, right lung, and which was pronounced contagious pleuro-pneumonia by three official experts; in this case there was a very weak pleurisy of the pulmonary pleura, but the entire lobe was consolidated in a mass of red and gray hepatization.

It must be noted that under certain conditions contagious pleuro-pneumonia does not differ a great deal from other forms of pneumonia, not contagious, and often for this reason a complete history of the contaminated animal becomes necessary in order to observe its origin and the dangers of infection to which it had been exposed.

The Belgian and English experts base their opinion in cases of contagious pleuro-pneumonia found in the lungs of American animals upon theory alone and neither of these experts will see nor admit the practical side of the question. Every theory which does not rest upon real facts, or which is not proved by practical facts, deserves no credit.

I have now to give the different practical reasons for which these cases, claimed to be contagious, constitute a form of pneumonia without contagious character, and I do not hesitate to affirm that my diagnosis has been sustained by practical facts that can not be consistently denied or ignored, whatever may be the prejudice prevailing at the examination. I have also been aided by some of the best pathologists in the world, and sufficient time has elapsed for my diagnosis to have been found correct.

The two first cases claimed as contagious pleuro-pneumonia were verified at Antwerp the 22d or 23d of August, 1894, upon animals landed at Antwerp from the steamship Minnesota.

The steamship Minnesota left the port of Baltimore the 29th of July, 1894, with 350 head of cattle, and arrived at Antwerp the 14th of August with a full load. From the 17th to the 23d of August, 291 head of cattle were slaughtered and found healthy (sound) on post-mortem examination, with the exception of the two cases in question. Two animals were sold and slaughtered on the 25th of August, and the rest, say 57 head, were subsequently slaughtered and found sound.

It is taken into consideration that this cargo of cattle had been kept together a whole week at least before shipment, two weeks and over on the voyage, besides a good week after arrival, and this herd subjected to the hardships of sea and land for nearly three weeks. Can it be believed that if the disease had been contagious, only two cases would have been discovered? Assuredly, no.

Some authorities may claim that this does not prove that the disease is not contagious; that the long incubation of this disease necessitates a complete development of a case before it can contaminate other animals; but it is well known that if a herd infected by contagious pleuro-pneumonia is exposed to fatigue, want of care, and ill treatment, the disease will rapidly show itself and will assume the most violent type.

The statement of these two cases and the diagnosis of the Belgian authorities was telegraphed to the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, and the tracing of the origin of the entire cargo was made by a competent and experienced veterinarian from America, without the slightest mention of pleuro-pneumonia being found either in the farms of their origin or in their neighborhood, neither before nor after. Can anything representing a contagious malady be seen in this?

The other cases of pleuro-pneumonia contagion were found at Antwerp the 25th of October, 1894, in the lungs of two animals from Canada.

On the 29th of December I saw two portions taken from the lungs of these animals at the veterinary school at Brussels. The lesions evident in these portions of the lungs were identical with those found in the cases of the animals landed by the Minnesota, except that in one of them the pulmonary pleura was somewhat more affected than in the other.

[Page 26]

In this portion of the lung the disease was slightly more advanced, and notwithstanding this the discoloration of the globules in the affected region was of a perfectly uniform degree.

The numbers 358606 and 358614 were those of the two animals from which were taken the two portions pronounced affected by contagious pleuro-pneumonia. These numbers were telegraphed to Washington, and vigilant researches were made in the farms and neighborhoods whence these animals came, without again finding any case of contagious pleuro-pneumonia or any trace even resembling it.

The best proof of the noninfection of these two animals is that the cattle were kept herded (en troupeau) for three full weeks in transit, likewise that a great number were held in quarantine during forty-five days, and notwithstanding this only two suspicious cases in all were discovered.

Some authorities may argue that the animals held in quarantine were separated from the sick ones, foreseeing the disease already indicated, and that only one sick animal can convey the disease from one animal to another. If this argument has any value, then for the purpose of arresting the contagion why slaughter the herd, the healthy subjects as well as those that are attacked?

It is a well-known fact that in a herd infected with pleuro-pneumonia the disease is not conveyed from one animal directly to another. For instance, an animal in one part of the stable will fall sick, and its neighbor will not be contaminated, while another situated at the extremity of the stable may be so.

Another argument against the contagion of these cases of pleuro-pneumonia is the fact that the same lesions exist in the lungs proceeding from the United States that are landed in England, and during these last five years over 60 cases of what the English authorities call contagious pleuro-pneumonia have been discovered.

The numbers of each of these animals were noted and the animals were traced to their place of origin by competent veterinarians who could discover no sign of contagious pleuro-pneumonia among the animals remaining in the farms and neighborhoods wherein originated the animals pronounced affected. A surveillance was established of these farms and districts for several months, without having had to report any disease during that time. In fact, these few cases originated in certain districts of the United States where no case of contagious pleuro-pneumonia had ever arisen.

Good sense superabundantly indicated to anyone not prepossessed that from 60 cases of disease being imported into England or into any other country there might be inferred to exist an enormous number of infection centers in the United States, whence infected animals have been shipped, and that it would be impossible that such a state of things should have been unobserved until now.

At the Annual Congress of the Veterinary Medical Association of the United States held at Chicago the 18th, 19th, and 20th of October, 1893, and at Philadelphia the 18th and 19th of September, 1894, it was unanimously admitted that no sort of contagious pleuro-pneumonia existed in any part of the United States. The Veterinary Association of the United States includes in its members practitioners from all sections of the United States, among whom are specialists in every branch of veterinary science. Now, can the possibility be admitted of the existence of pleuro-pneumonia without one or several of these veterinary associates having had knowledge of it, and if one of these associates knew of its existence, were it but of a single case, what reason would he have for not making it known? Absolutely none.

However it may be, the contagious pleuro-pneumonia does not exist in the United States and has not been found there for four years.

If the authorities wish to be convinced of this, they can easily do so through their consuls. I can state that the American authorities are honest in affirming that contagious pleuro-pneumonia does not exist in their country, and that it is morally impossible for such a disease to exist without becoming known at once. Every State in the Union has a veterinary service, the duty of which, under the law, is to visit every district or part of a district where there would be reason to believe or to suspect the existence of any contagious disease whatever, to employ all preventive measures necessary to hinder a disease from spreading, and to stop its progress as early as possible.

It is also a duty imposed by law of the different States on every veterinarian to inform the service of the State of every case of contagious disease known to him, and this under penalty of a heavy fine or imprisonment if he has not fulfilled said duty within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the disease.

I may say, without pretension I hope, that I have had almost if not quite as much experience in the recognized contagious diseases as any man in the world, no matter who. I have been instrumental in arresting this disease in Kentucky, Maryland, and New York, the greater portion of the labor of sanitary superintendence in those States being under my control and direction.

W. H. Wray,
Veterinary Surgeon, Chief Inspector of the United States for Great Britain.