Research - Illness

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willhud

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I am doing some research for a book and was wondering if one or two of your experts would help me.

The setting of the book would be very similiar to Kansas circa 1800. I am looking for an illness or contagion that would have effected both cattle and people. For the purposes of the story, the cattle would be found dead and people would be getting sick shortly there after or vica versa. It's a minor plot point, but I don't want to just make stuff up. I also would prefer if it's something that they could have reasonably controlled with similiar medicines of that time period without haveing to slaughter the entire herd. So far, all I have come up with from doing broad research is anthrax, so I wanted to find a place to ask people who deal with cattle and are familiar with them. Any help is greatly appreciated.

thanks.
 

Keren

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I dont know about the time period and whatever, but here's a bit of a broad list of zoonoses (diseases that you can catch from cattle)

Anthrax - you already know

Brucellosis - causes inflammation of testicles in bulls and causes cows to abort and/or have weak calves. Humans contract it via milk and raw meat (such as when slaughtering stock) and it causes undulant fever, a disease characterized by intermittent fever, headaches, fatigue, joint and bone pain, psychotic disturbances, and other symptoms.

E coli O157 - a bacterium that is part of the normal gut flora of cattle, sheep, goats, pets and wild birds. These animals carry it without causing disease however when humans are infected the toxins that the bacteria produce can cause serious illness. This can range from diarrhoea to kidney failure and fatal cases have been reported.

Leptospirosis - cattle show blood tinged urine, jaundice and eventual death, or may be silent carriers. May also cause abortions. Humans contract it by inhalation of the bacteria, which is shed through urine. The people at highest risk for this disease include dairy farmers, piggery workers and stock transporters, but any person handling livestock or native wildlife is at risk. Affected people generally suffer an acute onset of headache, fever and occasionally conjunctivitis, vomiting or abdominal pain.

Listeriosis - can be seen in cattle causing encephalitis, abortion, septicaemia and mastitis. The cattle pick it up from contaminated feed, often silage. It can also be transmitted through the upper respiratory tract mucosa, conjunctiva and wounds. Listeriosis in humans is predominantly a food borne disease that is associated with soft cheeses, vegetables, meats and milk. The clinical disease in humans can be mild and “flu like” or more serious causing abortion, disease in neonates infected prepartum, meningoencephalitis and death.

Q-fever - The clinical signs of this disease in humans range from no noticeable signs, to a severe flu like syndrome that may last for months. It is spread by inhalation of the organism from the placental fluids and urine of sheep, goats, cattle and native animals (i.e. bandicoots, wallabies etc.). Affected animals appear normal. The people most at risk of contracting this disease are abattoir workers (particularly those dealing with foetuses), veterinarians, shearers and farm workers.

Salmonellosis (Gastroenteritis) - Salmonella sp. are bacteria that live in the intestinal tract of carrier animals of many species including livestock, poultry and reptiles. Infective numbers of the bacteria are shed into the faeces of these animals particularly during periods of stress such as being yarded and transported. Other animals and humans can ingest the salmonella bacteria through direct or indirect contact with faecal material and infection then produces gastroenteritis

Cryptosporidiosis - caused by a protozoan that is carried in the gut of a number of livestock species including calves, lambs, goats and deer. It is shed in faeces and transmitted to humans either through direct contact with dung or via contaminated drinking water. Swimming in contaminated water can also result in infection. Children and immuno-compromised people are most at risk of contracting Cryptosporidiosis, for example the elderly or AIDS patients. In immune competent individuals the disease is usually restricted to a "flu-like" illness that lasts up to six weeks and is accompanied by diarrhoea and abdominal pain however in immune deficient people the disease can be fatal.

Nasty enough for ya? lol
 
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willhud

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Thanks for the very detailed response. That gives me a lot to research. I am still leaning towards the anthrax, but it will depend on what else I found out.

Another member sent me a PM and brought up an interesting point I had not considered. Due to the illnesses this group of people would probable devide their herd up into smaller sections and keep them isolated.

With a completely closed society (these people can't go out and buy more cows). How many would you all think would be needed for the population to remain healthy and viable? Taking into account things like inbreeding, etc.

If you are familiar with sheep and horses, I probably need the the same kind of information on them. Can you have a herd of 100 cows/sheep/horses and that maintain a viable population?
 

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