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Lesion milkshakes, markets and science: bovine tuberculosis policy in Canada, 1895-1922

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Title: Lesion milkshakes, markets and science: bovine tuberculosis policy in Canada, 1895-1922
Author: Cox, Lisa M.
Department: Department of History
Advisor: McCook, S.G.
Abstract: This thesis is an examination of federal agricultural policies to address the problem of bovine tuberculosis in Canada between 1895 and 1922. Bovine tuberculosis policies in Canada reveal a significant transformation in the relationship between the federal government and its citizens. This transformation is revealed in the rise of the veterinary profession in Canada and its relationship with the federal government, the focus of bovine tuberculosis policy, and the transformation of the burden of risk witnessed with the implementation of compensation for lost stock beginning in 1914. Canada was heavily involved in cattle trading with the United States and Great Britain between 1895 and 1922. Contagious cattle diseases were a serious concern for both the international and domestic cattle trade. Britain's scheduling of Canada over pleuro-pneumonia in 1892 combined with concerns over other diseases such as rinderpest (cattle plague) and foot and mouth disease led to the development of a system of quarantine measures designed to prevent diseases from entering or leaving Canada. Bovine tuberculosis testing policies became part of these quarantine procedures. Bovine tuberculosis was unique in this period as it was a zoonotic disease. The ability to infect both animals and humans, particularly children, through the consumption of infected meat and milk demanded that bovine tuberculosis be addressed. This was not easily accomplished as the science of bovine tuberculosis was heavily debated. Robert Koch, the noted German bacteriologist who discovered the tubercle bacillus, led this debate. Making the controversial announcement at the International Congress on Tuberculosis in 1901 that bovine tuberculosis posed no danger to humans, Koch questioned not only the science of bovine tuberculosis, but of zoonoses in general. A number of policies were created between 1895 and 1922 to address bovine tuberculosis. They included the Tuberculosis Act (1895), 1903 Order, the Supervised Herd Plan (1905), the Municipal Tuberculosis Order (1914), the Accredited Herd Plan (1919), and the Restricted Area Plan (1922). In the midst of international market regulations about disease and debated science, Canada addressed the problem of bovine tuberculosis and continues to do so in much the same way today. Between 1895 and 1922, Canada's policies transformed to address public health and establish bovine tuberculosis-free zones to ensure disease-free cattle for the international and domestic markets.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10214/20465
Date: 2007
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