Ovine pathology in the Sologne (France): The aqueous cachexy and the so-called “red disease”, two diseases that have lasted impression

by Bernard Heude, Docteur vétérinaire, Docteur en histoire, Adel. bernard.heude@orange.fr

Two diseases of wool animals are outstanding for the Sologne inhabitants in the 18 th century and are a major source of worry, as they cause a high rate of mortality in flocks of sheep, a main asset in this particularly damp part of France. The former is aqueous cachexy or rot. It is a real scourge for breeders, all the more so as treatments prove inefficient. This disease has been called distomatosis (rot in sheeps) since the 1870s, when scientists ascertained its parasitic origin. The latter is the « red disease » or « Sologne disease ». It seems to appear at the beginning of the 18 th century and looks far more mysterious than the former, as the Sologne inhabitants have neither treatment, nor explanation for it. This disease gradually slacked off its pressure at the beginning of the 19 th century and disappeared by the beginning of the 20 th century, without its aetiology being cleared up.

Bull.soc.fr.hist.méd.sci.vét., 2011, 11 : 43-59