related case histories from his career as a government veterinary
surgeon.These were veritable detective stories.
1964 two Aberdeen students contracted typhoid fever, an exceptional
occurrence in Scotland. Over a matter of weeks 540 farther cases arose
in the surrounding area.
Investigation traced the outbreak
to infected canned meat from a single source - William Lows in
Aberdeen. At that time there was no legislation covering food hygiene.
Everything was sliced on the same machine which was never cleaned
between uses and the staff never wore gloves.
enquiries traced the canned meat to corned beef from Argentina - from
the same cannery! A UK vet seconded to Buenos Aires studied the canning
process. It was discovered that imperfectly sealed cans were cooled
with untreated river water. Farther upstream there had been outbreaks of
consequence of these investigations was greater UK supervision of
Argentine canning processes. Another, less well known, was that our
government held twelve years worth of canned meat in emergency stocks.
This was at the height of the Cold War. No one could tell whether these
stocks contained infected meat or not. They were eventually released for
use with instructions that the contents be well cooked before
years later, a case of foot and mouth disease was reported to the local
veterinary officer in Shropshire. He knew exactly what action to take.
It was market day. He ordered closure of the market by noon. F&M is a
wind borne virus. The prevailing south-westerlies spread the infection
into neighbouring counties, resulting in 2,000 cases. With outbreaks in
so many areas what could possibly be the cause?
work found wrappers from sheep meat in farm bins. These all came from
the same place - Argentina. Three vets were sent out to Argentina. The
virus can survive processing, lying dormant in bone marrow. The import
of boned meat was banned. All plants had to be licensed. Infected
animals were culled and the outbreak brought under control.
years later, in 1978, a case of F&M was detected in a bull in
Hampshire and also in a batch of sows in Newcastle. Unfortunately, the
government interfered, allowing markets three days to close. Over this
period infected animals were transported all over the country and even
abroad. This prolonged the outbreak leading to thousands of animals
being slaughtered before it could be brought under control.
greatest investigative success came in the 1980’s over handling the BSE
epidemic. Some cows were observed with a condition similar to scrapie
in sheep. There was no known causal organism. Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease
in man is very similar. Only dairy herds were affected, not meat herds
which were fed on grass Dairy cattle were given concentrated feeds
containing animal protein. Where these were heat treated there were no
cases. Chemical treatment did not destroy the prion responsible. Now no
animal product is allowed in feed. At the height of the epidemic 40,000
animals were slaughtered every year.
Last year’s case in Moray was shown to be an isolated mutation.
Jackson proposed thanks, praising Arthur’s detective skills while
conceding the masterly presentation had put him off corned beef for