Distemper is frequently used in the same sense as disease, but is particularly applicable to cattle.— This term implies a species of contagious fever, attended with an in-flammation which is succeeded by a gangrene in the lungs, liver, or. intestines. It is always preceded by a shivering and trembling of the limbs, which are followed by va rious febrile symptoms, such as difficulty of breathing, a sinking in the flanks, and a dryness on the tongue, together with a loathing of the usual food and drink, great heaviness and debility. Animals affected with the distemper, frequently shed tears; their eyes appear sometimes sparkling and inflamed, but at intervals dull and languid. Their food remains crude in the stomach for several days after it has been eaten, from their inability to digest it.
This contagion spread most rapidly in the early part, and about the middle of last century, over several provinces in France, whence it reached this country, and destroyed great numbers of cattle. Various causes of this malady have been assigned, but that most generally admitted, is the turning of cattle into rank grass, especially after heavy and frequent showers. Different remedies were then adopted, the best of which appears to be bleeding the infected animal in the earlier stages of the disorder; and the internal use of the Peruvian bark and red wine ; or, if these should fail to procure relief, a mixture of that drug and of burdock, about half an ounce of each, pul-verized, may be given twice nightly, for two or three succeeding nights, in warm water, which will seldom fail of effecting a cure.— Tar-water, consisting of one quart of tar and four of water, has likewise been administered with considerable success, in the proportion of three quarts or a gallon, according to the size of the animal. Such a dose ought to be given four times ever)' day, but should be gradually lessened, so that the infected creature never receive less than three pints, or two quarts. At the 6ame time it should be carefully housed every-night, for several weeks, and the tar-water worked off with warm gruel and malt-mash.
When the pasture is very exuberant, it will be necessary to give purgatives to cattle, especially to cows; as such precaution will most effectually prevent the spreading of this fatal disorder. Hence a correspondent in the Gent. Mag. for 1745, judiciously advises large draughts of butter-milk to be allowed, till they are sufficiently purged.
Should, unfortunately, the distemper at any future time become so prevalent as it was in the last century, we would recommend the following directions (extractedfrom the 358th N°. of the Philosophical Transactions, for 1714) to be strict-ly attended to : 1. Those cow-keepers, whose cattle are well, ought not to approach any cows that are sick, nor permit any person who has been with sick cows' to come in contact with their own.
2. That not more than ten or twelve cows be kept in a field to-gether (or a still smaller number, if possible) ; it having been found by experience, that where the disease prevailed among herds of several hundreds, very few escaped.
3. When a cow-keeper perceives any one of his cows to be infected, he ought to kill her immediately, before the disease can arrive at any height; such being the only means of preserving the others. 4. All those cows which have been so killed, or happen to die of the disease, ought to be immediately buried with their hides, entirely covered with quick-lime, and afterwards with earth, not less than six feet deep. 5. The milking-places and fields where such sick cows have stood or glazed, should be kept clear for two months (or till they have been sufficiently cleansed by rain) before any other cattle be suffered to stand or graze there. 6. The house in which those cows have been kept, ought to be washed very clean, and then smoked, by burning pitch, tar, or worm-wood ; and to be shut up for three months, at least, before any other cows are housed in them : and 7. That the same method be taken with calves, oxen, and bulls. - See also Murrain.