The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1889. TUBERCULOUS CATTLE.
la an article on " Phthisis m the Colonies " m onr issue of of the 24th nit. it was stated on the authority of Dr McLanrin, President of the Board of Health of New South Wales, that one of the canses of the spread of consumptive disease m Australasia, especially m the colony abore-named, was the use as food of " the flesh of tuberculous cattle and the milk of tuberculous cows/ it being asserted by him that " there is a good deal of trafficking m such cattle m New South Wales for slaughtering or dairy purposes." Commenting upon this we vrote "It is possible that a like danger may exist, even if m less degree, m the other colonies of the group, and the matter is one which certainly deserves careful investigation and consideration." The truth of this has been recently very unpleasantly demonstrated by the discovery m the Wellington Provincial district of the existence of tuberculous disease m cattle slaughtered for meat, and as concurrently with this there are reports of dirty dairies and unclean slaughterhouses which stand to the disease m the relation of cause to effect, the Government has done well m sending oat a circular to local governing bodies drawing their attention to the powers which they possess as Boards of Health to enforce a regard for the health of the public on the part of the proprietors of such establishments. But we agree with our contemporary the " Post " m thinking that this is scarcely enough. That paper urges that " The Government should see that the local bodies use the powers (which the law confers upon them) and then should assist them m doing so when necessary. It is not likely that a County Council or Road Board will incur large liabilities to provida for efficient inspection, or claims for compensation where cattle ought to be killed. The suppression of such a disease as tuberculosis is, m fact, not a local question at all, but one of the most thoroughly colonial character. If it is allowed to spread unchecked, it will probably soon infect every part of the colony. The districts as yet free from it have as great, m fact a greater, interest m its being at once stamped out than the districts m which it has so unfortunately already got a hold. It is utterly unreasonable to attempt to throw the expense of dealing with a matter of this kind on the local bodies. No doubt they have a certain degree of responsibility imposed on them, and should exercise to the utmost the powers of suppression with which the law has invested them, bnt they should not be required to bear the cost of doing this m such a case as the present one. A higher responsibility than this rests on the Government, and that is of providing means for isolating, and, if possible, extirpating the plague. This responsibility the people of the colony will look to the government to accept and discharge. The matter is one of importance not only to /stockholders, but to -the general public, for the public health is at stake. Everyone m the community uses dairy produce of one kind or another, and it appears that the seeds of disease may be carried by such produce and embedded m the frame of the human consumer. The apparently harmless drink of milk or piece of bread and butter may implant that fell disease, consumption, m the child consnmer if the milk has been drawn from a cow affected with tuberculosis. This is a most serious consideration, and shows that not only the pockets of the cattle owners, but the Ijves of the people are threatened: Under these circumstances, the duty of the Government is clear. It may have to work through the local bodies, but it should incite them to activity, and provide them with the means. Skilled inspectors should be provided at the Gofernment cost, and where cattle have by their orders to be destroyed, the Government should make itself responsible for any compensation which may have to be paid, The matter is one of urgent and vital importance, and we are quite sure that Parliament will gladly indemnify the Government for any expenditure which it may incur jin dealing with it promptly. Wo hope to hear that the Government has set the local government machinery to work, and has 1 become responsible for what may be termed the supply of motive power. The question of the insanitary condition of the dairies and slaughterhouses stands on a different footing. If these places are m the condition described by Mr M'Clean, then undoubtedly the local bodies who . have control have grossly neglected their duty. The law has given them ample powers of supervision and inspection, and the matter is clearly one within their province to deal with. If they have neglected to exercise the powers confided to them they have done « wrong to the communities which they represent." The local bodies referred to by the " Post " are specially those m the Wellington district, but as like l*U#£B produce l|k« effects, irrespective
of locality, it may be quite worth while to enquire whether oar own County and Borough Councils are on the alert m this matter. The question is one which it would be well for them to look into.