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‘Filthy Vessels’:Milk Safety and Attempts to Restrict the Spread of Bovine Tuberculosis in Queensland

Gillian Colclough
Health and History
Vol. 12, No. 1 (2010), pp. 6-26
DOI: 10.5401/healthhist.12.1.0006
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5401/healthhist.12.1.0006
Page Count: 21
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‘Filthy Vessels’:Milk Safety and Attempts to Restrict the Spread of Bovine Tuberculosis in Queensland
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Abstract

Bovine tuberculosis is a dangerous mycobacterium that can be conveyed to humans in the meat and milk of cattle. By the mid-1800s, when health scientists began arguing about its zoonotic potential and danger to humans, the disease was well established in Australian cattle herds. This article examines the Queensland response to bovine tuberculosis from the late 1800s to the 1940s, when the problem of tubercular cattle could no longer be ignored. It shows that despite widespread concern about milk safety and increasing knowledge of the disease’s aetiology, the Queensland government directed its milk safety activities towards public health education rather than the inadequacies of the dairy industry’s approach to bovine tuberculosis. As such, it was tardy in addressing bovine tuberculosis.

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