Distemper is an acute infectious disease of young carnivorous animals, which attacks (1) Respiratory organs, (2) Digestive organs, (3) the Nervous System, (4) Skin of the abdomen, either each part alone or all of them together. It develops, when artificially produced, in three or four days; under natural conditions it usually takes three to four weeks.
The severe form of the disease manifests itself in a sudden refusal of food, sadness, whimpering, and general lassitude; also there is a high temperature. After three to four days the temperature falls below normal and death occurs.
The acute form sets in in a similar manner, only the fever lasts two to four weeks; a very high temperature, or it falls to rise again and then comes down gradually. At the onset the animals are restless, tired, easily afraid, they lose their appetite and obey reluctantly.
The catarrh of the air-passages is indicated by a short dry cough which later becomes prolonged and moist, frequently producing cramp-like attacks and vomiting. Breathing becomes more difficult and rapid, and rattling is heard in the chest cavity.
The eye symptoms develop simultaneously with the attack on the respiratory organs. They commence with an inflammation of the conjunctivae, with swelling of the eyelids, the conjunctivae being very red and painful. There is excessive lachrymation and a mucous secretion which becomes purulent. Sometimes the lens becomes torpid.
The affection of the digestive organs is first noticeable by the absence of any desire for food together with intense thirst, with frequent vomiting of mucus discoloured with bile. The mouth is dry and hot, the tongue dirty and the stomach region sensitive. The excreta are loose, streaked with blood and are offensive.
Even in mild cases nervous symptoms are very often noticeable and from such a prominent feature that they dominate the disease picture. Sometimes paralysis of local parts occurs, frequently cramp-like spasms of the whole body.
In fifty per cent. of the cases the skin of the abdomen and the inside of the legs are covered with a peculiar pustular eruption.
Treatment must follow closely the disease picture. The patient must be put into a clean protected place and fed on strong meat soups, etc. In great lassitude and weakness give Cocculus, Camphor, Ledum.
The fever requires no special treatment except in the case of over 41 degree C. In which case Nux vomica should be given.
The catarrh of the Respiratory tract is best treated with Phos., Acon., Bell., Kreosote.
The intestinal symptoms are treated alternately with Arsen. and Puls.
The inflammation of the eyes yields frequently to Cannabis sativa.
The nerve symptoms can be treated with Opium and Arsenicum.
The skin eruption, which usually disappears when recovery sets in, can often be treated successfully with Merc. cor.
Lay people should use the medium potencies.
Naturally these are only some abbreviated notes for the early stages of the disease. The choice of remedies in prolonged treatment and serious cases is best left in the hands of a veterinary surgeon, as distemper is as a rule a serious affection.
I would like to say that to prevent distemper in young animals the only thing is good feeding. Do not spare meat, milk, and if necessary cod liver oil. In all cases do not think that bread and thin soup will make a strong animal. Experience teaches otherwise.
(At the end of a long article on Epidemic Fevers and their Prevention, by Dr. Emil Schlegel, in the same Journal, some paragraphs are devoted to the treatment of animals, from which the following extracts are taken).
“My own experience is only small but I can state that poultry, dogs, pigs, cattle and horses can be treated very satisfactorily with homoeopathic remedies when these are correctly administered.
With regard to Foot and Mouth Disease of cattle, I can say a little more, Merc. cor. in the twelfth dilution has given good results. Also an isopathic remedy prepared from the mucus of the mouth of the diseased animals in the sixth dilution, of which several drops are given in water twice a day is very useful. Apart from that I am convinced that remedies suitable for epidemics in human beings apply equally well to epidemics in the animal world. With regard to general remarks, light and fresh air are essential for all domestic animals and they must have access to earth which is free from manures.
Many animals eat soil or swallow small pebbles, which they digest and utilise in other ways. With the earth the animal takes in alumina which acts as a disinfectant. With sand they partake of silica which they dissolve and utilise. It is equally essential for poultry to have lime. Rabbit holders should realise that they are rodents and require branches of fruit trees, particularly those from stone fruits, the bark of which is an important footstuff for them. Concrete floors should never be used, they are even more harmful to animals than to human beings, they injure the feet of both unless covered with a layer of earth which is frequently renewed, and care should be taken that this soil is free from manure. To strengthen cattle and poultry it is good to mix with their food, ground field-stone which contains lime and silica.”.
RAYNAUDS DISEASE AND ARSENIC RETENTION. SODIUM THIOSULPHITE AS ANTIDOTE. A.F. Kraetzer (Journ. Amer. Med. Assoc., April 5th, 1930, p. 1035) calls attention to recent work by Throne and Myers on arsenic retention and eczema, and mentions many unsuspected or little known sources of arsenic; among them are woollen and cotton fabrics, silk impregnated with tin, tobacco, and some common medicaments such as rhubarb and soda, sulphur, and calamine and zinc lotions. He records the case of woman, aged 38, who had worked for fourteen years in a green house where insecticide sprays containing arsenic were in daily use. After attacks each spring of pruritic rashes on the hands with frequent soreness of the throat, chronic constipation, and general poor health, she began to exhibit signs of Raynauds disease in the fingers and toes, which caused great pain and inconvenience.
The attacks were almost invariably brought on by motoring in cold weather. Physical examination of the patient showed signs of arsenic retention, and thirty-six hours after the intravenous injection of 1 gram of sodium thiosulphate the urine was found by the Marsh test to contain 0.068 mg. of arsenic per 100 grams of dried material. A five weeks course of bi-weekly injections of 1 gram of sodium thiosulphate was given, after which the dose was continued once a week.
At the same time the patient was placed on a low carbohydrate diet, with enemies of sulphonated bitumen, and quarter-grain doses of thyroid extract twice a day. Diminution of the severity of the trouble was soon noticed and was steadily maintained. The toes soon cleared up; the agony during the recovery stage after putting the hands in warm water became less acute and then disappeared. The congestion stage shortened and then vanished, so that at the end of two months she was free from attack, even after driving her car in cold, wintery weather. British Medical Journal, August 23rd, 1930.