Health Topics

FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
A naturopathic perspective

Whatever the wisdom or folly of slaughter, vaccination, or a combination of the two in managing the foot and mouth disease epidemic, very little has been said about the only satisfactory answer to this and other contagious diseases - the natural immunity of the host creature. It is naïve to believe that a virus sweeps the land malevolently destroying everything in its path. Microbes are opportunistic and flourish only where they do not encounter adequate resistance or find an environment conducive to their purposes.

It is widely believed that healthy, well-nourished cattle will develop a natural immunity to FMD, or recover without long-term harm. In this context it should be emphasised that ‘health’ is not synonymous with ‘hygiene’ or asepsis. The antibiotic-ridden cow is the antithesis of a healthy animal. It could even be argued that an obsession with sterility has weakened the immunity by removing natural challenges to inherent defence mechanisms.

It is high time this hypothesis was put to the test with properly conducted trials. It is not a new idea. Nearly fifty years ago, during the 1952 epidemic of FMD, my father, F. Newman Turner, invited the Ministry of Agriculture and the Animal Disease Research Centre at Pirbright to allow infected animals to mix freely with his herd of pedigree Jerseys. They had been reared organically, were never vaccinated, and were treated only with herbal medicines when the need arose.

He based this challenge on the experiences of Sir Albert Howard, who had conducted a similar experiment with his pedigree oxen in India in the nineteen-thirties. Sir Albert had allowed his naturally reared animals to rub noses with neighbouring herds infected with FMD. None of his animals contracted the disease.

F Newman Turner’s challenge was ignored - Pirbright did not even acknowledge his letters - but at least, fifty years later, some people are acknowledging that FMD might partly be the consequence of the intensive farming practices about which he was warning people then.

Roger Newman Turner, ND, DO, BAc