Nr. 15 (1996)


A. Numan

"On the duties of the veterinarian, and the rules he has to observe in the performance of his art"

To conclude his lessons on General therapeutics Alexander Numan (1780-1851), director of the Utrecht Veterinary School, was used to devote a lecture on veterinary ethics. The most important elements of a code of practice are here given already: (1) how to behave as a worthy member of the profession; (2) how to deal with the animal owner; (3) how to entertain contacts with colleagues. Most attention is given to (1); the other points are mentioned only in passing. Ad 1: He advised at the one hand to be very careful in making a diagnosis or in planning a therapy, but at the other hand to be audacious and vigorous if the life of a patient would be on stake. It was considered to be of the highest importance to win the confidence of the animal owner. If a disease was initially not understood Numan judged it permissible to conceal doubts by applying harmless treatment. The veterinarian should never boast on own successes and bear in mind that Nature could have brought about the healing earlier than the therapy applied. He insisted on the necessity to keep studying by reading the professional literature, and also by keeping a practice diary to record disease histories and to compare these with experiences of others. Numan warned his pupils for the danger of routine in their daily practice. The best antidote would be continuing learning. Ad 2: Treatment of an experimental nature should only be performed after gaining consent of the animal owner. (In fact only the Veterinary School would be the right place to do experiments). He warned for the ignorance and the superstitious beliefs of many farmers. Of all people the veterinarian would be in the best position to instruct them. Ad 3: The brothers in the profession were there to consult with. If disagreements arose, only rational arguments were allowed to come into play. In a separate chapter Numan summs up the requirements he thought essential for a good veterinarian. The transcript is made after an autograph kept in the Library of the Veterinary Faculty in Utrecht.


B.A. Steltenpool

Servants of Aesculapius and Mars. The military veterinarian in The Netherlands East-Indies

Thirty years later than in patria the Veterinary Corps of the Royal Netherlands Indian Army was formed. Its members became officers belonging to the Military Medical Service. Before 1845 the horse doctors were under the command of officers of the cavalry. In the following period until 1921 a slow but steady emancipation of the Corps took place. The number of horse doctors increased from three in 1830 to twelve in 1921; the rank that could be attained was that of a captain in 1859, of a major in 1904 and of a lieutenant-colonel in 1914. In 1890 the responsabilities were precisely circumscribed in the Regulations for the Military Veterinary Service. Several garnisons got their animal hospitals with an own corps of nursing horse orderlies of about 70 persons. In 1921 the Military Veterinary Service was made to an independant unit, with an own inspectorate, inside the War Department. Until the begin of the 20th century the horses most in use were ponies of many native breeds (from Timor, Sumbawa, Bali, Java or Makassar). Then horses from of greater height were imported from Australia, and during the First World War also from Mongolia. Horses were in use with the cavalry, artillery and infantry. The cavalry, building only 3% of the total army force, nevertheless had 800-1000 horses. They were concentrated on the Island of Java in four garrisons (Batavia, Bandung, Salatiga and Malang); next to these there were, mostly for ceremonial reasons, cavalry units in Djokjakarta and Soerakarta. As mechanical traction gradually was introduced for the field artillery, horse-traction kept its importance for the mountain-artillery. Until the Japanese invasion in 1942 the mountain-artillery had 157 Australian and 411 native horses. Besides the use of horses by the officers of the infantry, here horses were used as baggage carriers (a battalion needed about 110 horses). Already in 1817 a start was made with a remonte, set up at Salatiga. Annual statistics of disease occurrences, as far as the garrisons were concernerd, were reported since 1890 (for the time after 1910 only stationary patients were taken into account). The diseases were classified in twelve main categories. The number of horses that needed treatment was considerable; the averages for the five-year periods 1891/1895 and 1905/1909 are given, being resp. 3495 and 6080 for 1500 and 2350 horses. In 1911 for the 2030 horses present, 3521 times stationary treatment was necessary. The surgical cases were reported separately. One of the greatest problems was caused by Pseudomonas malle infections. As the Australian horses were free of malleus, much attention was given to hygiene in order to prevent that they became infected. In 1902 the mallene test was introduced. But the Australian horses showed a great sensibility to a disease, now termed "Bran disease", "Miller's disease" or "Big head", then described as osteomalacia or osteoporosis, caused by maladaptation to a new diet. Next to their normal tasks the military horse doctors were active in the Veterinary Association of the Netherlands East-Indies, established in 1885. A great number of articles in its journal bear testimony of their scientific interests. They teached hippology and horseshoeing in their garrisons. They played their role in commissions to acquire new horses for the army. Also they accomplished tasks in the food and fodder inspection. In 1950, together with the liquidation of the Royal Netherlands Indian Army, the Military Veterinary Service was abolished.


J.D. Blaisdell

Reviled for the sake of health: distemper and the status of the dog in Ancient Israel

Texts from the Old Testament suggest that it was believed that dogs could not only suffer from periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases, but could them transmit also to men. The question, what possible afflictions could infect both humans and dogs, is investigated. It is hypothesized that at at one time in the ancient world there existed a common ancestor of the measles-distemper-rinderpest virus, that caused serious disease in both animals and humans. The ancient Hebrews saw the dog as a carrier of this affliction. Evidence for the occurrence of a contagious disease among dogs is to be found in the dog cemetry at Ashkelon (Israel).

P.A. Koolmees

The teaching of veterinary history restarted [in Utrecht]

With the introduction of a new curriculum in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University a number of optional subjects are given to the students of the first year. One of them is veterinary history. The article by the teacher of this subject reports on the goals set, the methods used and the results.