Nr. 14 (1996)


A.H.H.M. Mathijsen

Jubilees on the establishment of a school for veterinary education in The Netherlands in the past (1872, 1921, 1946, 1971)

In view of the celebration in May 1996 of the 175th anniversary of veterinary education in The Netherlands, an overview is given of the festivities to commemorate the golden jubilee, the centennial, the hundred twenty fifth and the sesquicentennial anniversary. The programs are described and compared in relation to the social conditions of the school, the aims of the organizers, the participants and the outcome in terms of contributions to the history of veterinary medicine. It is stated that the manner of celebrating reflected the self-image of the school and of the professional organization that prevailed at the time.

It is significant that the celebration of the golden jubilee was one year overdue. The tide for the school was turning. Some had mixed feelings because they thought their efforts to uplift the school and the profession remained without success, others felt supported by the recent enforcement of the Contagious Disease Act and by the change in the directorate of the School.

A mysterious, but comprehensible "due to circumstances" prevented a commemoration of the 75th anniversary (there were serious misunderstandings between the teachers and the director at that time).

The centenary, however, was a great manifestation, not without a certain triumphalism, because three years earlier (1918) university status was obtained.

Then in 1946, just after the war and still in impoverished conditions, a sober commemoration took place. The dean of the faculty took the opportunity to draw the lines for future developments. After a rather slow recovery during the afterwar years, the faculty could rejoice the progress made in many respects at the time of the 150th anniversary. In the programme of the festivities attention was given to all aspects of the veterinary spectrum. A very detailed new history of the School was published and presented to H.M. the Queen, who attended the official academic session. A characteristic of all celebrations was the support and active participation of the veterinary profession of the country and its association.


Ingrid J.R. Visser

Organized control of communicable diseases in animals in The Netherlands in the 18th, 19th and beginning of the 20th century

A short review is given of the measures taken to combat infectious diseases that ravaged the cattle herds in the past. The largest part of the article focuses on rinderpest and fibrous pleuropneumonia ('lung plague'). The country was invaded by rinderpest three times in the 18th and two times in the 19th century. During the three invasions in the 18th century the losses were enormous, causing disaster in the cattle-rich areas of Holland and Frisia. People and local governements were helpless. Neither praying nor issuing decrees could do anything. Advices given by medical faculties remained without any effect. Inocculations, although not effectless, were practiced on a too small scale to be effective. In the very last year of that century the conclusion was reached that stamping out would be the only effective measure. A law was enacted to provide for a Cattle Fund to compensate for losses which farmers would suffer by enforced slaughtering. The succes of this policy was proved shortly afterwards; an outbreak caused by some cattle brought into the country by an army on its way to Waterloo, could be stopped. Pleuropneumonia caused heavy losses especially in the 19th century. From 1831 until 1886 the outbreaks of the disease occurred. As its character remained unclear it took a long time before it was decided to use the method of stamping-out. In the mean time the Cattle Fund was exhausted. As in 1865 a new outbreak of rinderpest occurred in the neighbourhood of Rotterdam by reimporting cattle from the London market, and the fight was hampered by lack of veterinary legislation, the first Contagious Animal Disease Act was enacted, coming into force on the 1st of January 1871. Then the Veterinary Service was established and a regular control system of animal diseases could be set up. The next step forward was the establishment of the Serum Institute at Rotterdam in 1904. The fight against bovine tuberculosis was started at the turn of the century in Friesland. The initiative was taken by the local dairy industry. With the support of the Frisian Agricultural Society and the Frisian Cattle Herdbook a laboratory headed by the veterinarian dr. A.H. Veenbaas, could be established in Leeuwarden in 1919. The succes of this first Provincial Animal Health Service, reducing the incidence of tuberculosis in cattle in 25 years time from 30% to 5%, served as an example for the other provinces to establish animal health services too.

Their investigations and systematic campaigns contributed largely to the improvement of animal health in The Netherlands.


J. Hofman

The successfull eradication of bovine tuberculosis in The Netherlands, mainly in the periode after 1945

The campaign against bovine tuberculosis was the primary objective of the ten Provincial Animal Health Services established in 1946-1947, next to the Frisian Cattle Health Service, already in existence since 1919. After a short description of the disease and its implications for human

health, an outline is given of the steps leading to a nearly complete eradication in a relatively short time period of five years. Next to the technical and legal aspects, the financial and organizational and also the psychological factors are mentioned. The last ones are important because voluntary cooperation of the farmers is essential to fight diseases not listed in the Contagious Animal Disease Act. The right information, followed by persuasion and helped by financial stimuli led to the desired goal. Because the Animal Health Services were set up as organizations of the farmers themselves and also partly financed by them (by a levy on the milk production) the scheme took off under favourable conditions. It was experienced that a system of rewards (by certification of animals or farms free of disease) had to be given preference to a system of punishment (by punching holes in the ears of animals that showed a positive reaction to the tuberculin test). Other important factors for a succesfull campaign turned out to be a watertight system of identification and registration, backed up by a good administration, in order to be able to trace down each individual animal. Earmarks were in use since the twenties. But these could be lost and therefore a second tool was taken into use at the time the campaign started (1950/1951), viz. sketching of the patches on the hides of each animal. In 1991 sketching was abolished again to be replaced by the large earmarks at both ears. A well equiped laboratory and rooms for morbid pathology were also part of the necessary infrastucture. To compensate the farmers for the losses suffered by slaughtering the animals that presented a positive reaction to the tuberculin test, a fund was formed, partially out of "Marshall money", partially by an extra levy on milk; however, this levy could be regained, if a farm could be declared free of tuberculosis before a certain date.

The author concentrates mainly on the experiences gained in the three Northern provinces of the country during the five year period of the main campaign, but data for the whole country for the follow-up period lasting until 1971, are presented as well. Although the herds were almost free of tuberculosis in the mid-fifties (the incidence was reduced from an estimated 30% in 1945 to 0.05% in 1956/57) tuberculination on a reduced scale was continued until 1992 because infection of human origin remains possible. Since 1992 control is confined to the normal meat inspection procedures in the abattoirs.


P. Leeflang

Argos, body-guard of Io, or how the peacock got the beautiful eyes in his fan

One of the famous stories of Greek mythology in which a human being is transformed in an animal is retold here. It is the wonderful adventure of Io, daughter of Inachos.

After having been seduced by Zeus lovely Io was changed into a silvery shining cow because Zeus himself felt catched by his suspicious spouse Hera. Moreover Zeus submitted under Hera's pressure and gave her control over the cow. Hera appointed Argos to keep guard over Io. Argos was an ideal guard because he never slept. He had hundred eyes and of these he closed only two at the same time. Io suffered very much under her fate, especially after she had met her father who could not help her. Argos carried her off to isolated meadows and overlooked her from an hill. Zeus then gave orders to his son Hermes to liberate the unhappy Io, if necessary by force.

Hermes flew to earth and metamorphosed into a sheperd. Piping alluring tones he approached Argos who invited him to sit next to him. Then he started talking and telling long-winded stories that diverted Argos' attention. With the help of his magic rod Hermes induced sleep in the guard, and with a sword, hidden under his cloak, he killed him and threw him down the hill. Hera saw what happened. She frightened Io so terribly that she fled away and kept running chased by a warble fly. She ran along the shores of a sea, later called after her the Ionian Sea. She passed the Bosporus (i.e. crossing-place of cattle) and via Asia reached Egypt, where she arrived completely exhausted. Zeus, full of compassion, swore then to Hera to remain a faithful husband and he received permission to give back the human form to Io. In Egypt Io was venerated for her beauty and they made her a queen. After her death a temple was erected in her honour, and next to hers another temple was build for her son Epaphos, born from the seed of Zeus.

It was the work of Hera to ensure the memory of poor Argos by transplanting his eyes in the fan of the peacock.

Many artists in Antiquity and in the Renaissance were inspired by this story; an enumeration of those art works is given.