Proposed Guidelines For States Planning Fish Disease Control Programs

When given the task of discussing guidelines for fish disease legislation, it occurred to me that a brief review of the history of the current laws, both good and bad, governing fish diseases might be in order. However, this idea was quickly discarded because the history of fish disease control in the United States is short and dates only from the mid-1950's, and its study serves only to point out the sparsity of control measures and their general lack of uniformity. I was struck by the close parallel of the early development of animal disease control and the present state of the struggle to initiate effective fish disease control measures. Because of this close parallel, I would like to briefly discuss some of the historical aspects of animal disease legislation with the hope that it will point out some of the pitfalls we need to avoid. Prior to 1843, the United States was free of any significant livestock disease problems. However, in 1843 Peter Dunn, a New York City milkman, bought a milk cow from the captain of a British ship, the Washington. Because of the low price, it seemed at that time that Mr. Dunn was getting an excellent bargain. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of the most expensive cows ever bought since it introduced contagious pleuropneumonia, into the United States (Van Houweling, 1956). Several other diseases of livestock began to appear in apizootic proportions in the mid-1800's. During this period, hog chlorea was responsible for the loss of 25 t030 million dollars worth of hogs each year. Other diseases such as, tuberculosis, brucellosis, anthrax and blackleg were spreading and causing severe losses of livestock. Texas cattle fever caused all cattle raisers to live in fear that this dread disease of unknown etiology would strike their herds. By 1880, the number of disagreeable and expensive quarantines imposed by both state and local governments was increasing. Some of these quarantines were for protection of local livestock owners, but some were for the simple purpose of retaliation against other local governments (Van Houweling, 1956). By 1883, hogs from the United States had been barred from the European mai kets and our cattle and sheep were not permitted to be exported to England because of rampant disease outbreaks.

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