Disease outbreaks occur when infected individuals are allowed to mingle with healthy ones or if their contents get in contact and this means that quarantines are the best ways of managing these epidemics. Canada experienced a serious epidemic in 1952 when the foot and mouth disease broke out in a Saskatchewan firm and spread to the nearby counties. This condition took too long before it was controlled due to failure by various individuals to take corrective measures to manage it. The events that followed led to a $977,600 expenses that involved funds for compensating farmers and eradication campaigns. This led to the formation of a commission that interviewed various stakeholders in the ministry of agriculture to investigate what happened that led to the indiscriminate spread of the foot and mouth disease.
We will write a custom Case Study on Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak in Canada in 1952 specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Foot and mouth is a deadly disease that kills domestic and wild animals if they are not given immediate attention. Even though, Canada had fought this infecting a long time ago it has developed measures that ensure all animals and their products are properly tested to ascertain their health conditions. These include testing all animal [products entering Canada or moving from one firm to another and also testing their qualities before being processed for human consumption. the ministry of agriculture has research and testing departments that ensure emergencies are attended to without delays. However, this case study shows that none of the officers in charge of disease prevention took proper and timely steps to avert the spread of the epidemic.
First, when Mr. Charles Blair noticed that his animals had blisters on their tongues, were not eating, and reduced their milk production he contacted the local veterinary department. The Indian Head veterinarian gave a prescription by telephone and did not outline precautionary measures. Even though he was on leave he should not have prescribed drugs for animals he had not examined. This shows irresponsibility and negligence and the wise thing to do would have been to contact his colleague and refer the matter to him. Also, the farmer did not request to know what he was supposed to do to avoid the spread of the disease to other animals and firms and that is why he invited his two neighbors to help. Later, their animals were also infected because the disease spread from Mr. Blair’s animals to theirs due to lack of preventive measures and this led to quarantine.
Moreover, Dr. R. Thompson, the Veterinary Director in Regina showed complexity by allowing his staff to do what they wanted. He did not make follow-ups to ensure that standard procedures were observed. Dr. Campbell did a good work of traveling to the firm and conducting a diagnosis of sick animals. Also, he reported the issue to Ottawa the same day he suspected the animals were suffering from vesicular stomatitis. However, he lifted the quarantine without informing his boss or conducting extensive research to establish the truth about the disease. Besides, the Rhodes packing plant that was located in the nearby farm did not diagnose its animals before they were bought for slaughter. It is easy to blame almost everybody involved in contributing to the disease outbreak due to the roles they played in delaying diagnosis or failing to communicate on time.
Dr. P. Bailey held a powerful position in disease prevention and animal health promotion did not take this issue seriously. He was quick to dismiss claims that the disease was foot and mouth without even conducting research or waiting for laboratory results to prove his opinion. Also, the Committee of the House of Commons had a general agreement that nobody should use the term foot and mouth disease because it had serious implications. Therefore, the fear of making people hysterical made the department reluctant to conduct research and establish the truth about the epidemic. Besides, Canada suffered the last disease outbreak (foot and mouth) in the 1890s and this was a perfect resume for the ministry of agriculture to feign ignorance about the disease.
Also, it took too long before any communication was made from Regina to Ottawa. This means that the field officers sent there did not do their work as required. There were reluctance and laziness in the manner in which they conducted their affair and this gave the disease time to spread to other farms. Mr. Davies did not play his part well by failing to request for information from Dr. Knight regarding the position on the ground. Moreover, he did not take any action even after being informed that the disease had spread to other areas and the measures being taken were not helping to alleviate the situation. Dr. Saunders failed to communicate in time regarding the disease and this created room for laxity in the ministry.
Another unique event, in this case, was the role played by Dr. Bailey when the animal specimens were sent to Hull. The ministry acted unprofessionally by allowing its staff to do business on its behalf even when they were on leave. It is shocking that Dr. Bailey countermanded the order and claimed that it was not safe to do so. The case shows that even though Dr. Blair was on statutory leave he was still working and controlling the activities of the ministry. There seem to be no proper communication channels between the main office at Ottawa and their grass root branches. Dr. Saunders should not have allowed the specimens to be moved to Ottawa because there were laboratories in Regina that could perform the same functions as the main one.
Mr. B. Davies, The minister of agriculture seems not to know who is responsible for failing to play their roles in disease prevention. During the committee hearings, he was not sure who should answer which question and always had a person in mind that was well suited to answer specific questions. However, when that individual took to the stand the minister became adamant and uncomfortable when explaining the roles of his staff in disease prevention. Besides, he did not know the early quarantines and only knew about them when the situation had worsened. Therefore, there is the need to priorities events in this ministry to ensure that even though the minister may not be informed about every happening on the ground the most important ones should hit his desk. There is a need to ensure that all diseases are given serious attention to avoid the occurrence of another epidemic. The staff of this ministry must start working and follow standard procedures to ensure they perform their roles properly.