HC Deb 12 May 1879 vol 246 cc128-9

asked the Vice President of the Council, If he is aware that Professor W. W. Williams, of the Edinburgh Veterinary College, had written a letter to Dr. Laidlaw, veterinary pathologist of Albany, New York, denying in the most emphatic terms that pleuro-pneumonia has existed in any cattle hitherto imported from the United States; whether his attention has been called to a letter of Professor Williams, dated 29th of March, in which the following passage occurs:— Since first arrival of 'Ontario' with cattle, others have arrived at Liverpool, and I have examined the lungs said by Privy Council inspectors to have pleuro-pneumonia, and satisfied all who have seen them that no pleuro-pneumonia has arrived here from America; indeed, everybody is surprised that such a gross mistake should have been made. The last lot—seven in number—examined by me had bronchitis, with collapse of the lung; but not a trace of pleurisy nor of pneumonia, yet they were declared by the authorities in London to have typical pleuro-pneumonia. I have the specimens most carefully preserved, and am ready to show them to the whole world if necessary; and, what steps he proposes to take to satisfy himself of the correctness of these statements?


Sir, a statement of Professor Williams was forwarded to the Privy Council Office by the Canadian Government last month, and upon receiving it the Privy Council requested Professor Brown, the head of the Veterinary Department, to investigate the subject. I will read the Memorandum which he has drawn up, and which was sent in reply to the Canadian Government— On January 26 the steam ship Ontario arrived at Liverpool, having on board 195 cattle and two carcases; 87 head of cattle had been thrown overboard, making the total number shipped 284. On examining one of the carcases, the Inspector at Liverpool found evidence of pleuro-pneumonia, and forwarded portions of the lung to the Veterinary Department. This specimen was found to represent the characteristic indications of the contagious pleuro-pneumonia of cattle so well known in this country. By direction of the Lord President, I immediately instructed Mr. Duguid, one of the Inspectors of this Department, to proceed to Liverpool and report as to the condition of the animals which had been detained there. Mr. Duguid remained at Liverpool and superintended the slaughter of the cattle, and in the course of the post-mortem examination he detected 13 cases of pleuro-pneumonia in various stages. Since the landing of the cattle from the Ontario in January, cases of the disease have been detected among cattle from the United States by the Inspector at Liverpool in three other cargoes, and in one cargo by the Inspector at the Foreign Cattle Market, Deptford. Portions of the lungs taken from the diseased cattle were forwarded by the Inspectors to the Veterinary Department; and I took the opportunity of submitting some of the specimens to the inspection of several experts who have made pleuro-pneumonia of cattle a subject of special inquiry, and they were unanimous in their expression of opinion that the morbid changes were indicative of contagious pleuro-pneumonia. I may add that the alterations which are apparent in the lung structure in contagious pleuro-pneumonia, even in the earliest stages, are so different from those which occur in any other affection of the lungs of the ox, that no competent pathologist would experience any difficulty in arriving at a correct conclusion as to the nature of the disease. I may add that since the date of this Report six cargoes of cattle from America have been landed at Liverpool and Deptford in which contagious pleuro-pneumonia has been found to exist.