Original Research

A brief history of botulism in South Africa : historical overview : Onderstepoort and veterinary research in Africa

C.M. Cameron
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 76, No 1 | a54 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v76i1.54 | © 2009 C.M. Cameron | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 September 2009 | Published: 10 September 2009

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When looking back into the history of botulism and contemplating the final understanding of the syndrome and the ultimate solutions, there are four facets that stand out clearly. The first is that much of the solution was guided by astute observations, curious travellers, committed veterinarians and particularly farmers themselves who were able to relate the occurrence of the condition to climatic and grazing conditions. Secondly, there was the identification of the osteophagia and pica syndrome which led to the feeding of bone-meal as a successful mitigating measure as well as the establishment that botulism was not due to a plant poisoning. Thirdly, the solution of the problem depended on the integration of experience and knowledge from diverse disciplines such as soil science, animal behaviour and husbandry, nutrition, botany and ultimately advanced bacteriology and the science of immunology. Finally it required the technical advancement to produce toxoids in large quantities and formulate effective aluminium hydroxide precipitated and oil emulsion vaccines.


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