To study the modes of inheritance of traits in dogs it was necessary to do a lot of breeding of a lot of dogs. The literature shows modes of inheritance of more traits reported by Leon F. Whitney, my father, than all other investigations reported. We often had a head count of over 200 dogs. With that number in more or less close proximity when a contagious disease broke out there could be and was a disaster. I recall one winter a pile of frozen carcasses of 75 or more dogs waiting for the frozen ground to thaw to permit digging a mass grave for them. The killer was called distemper.
There was a time when many conditions resulting in serious diseases were called by that name. There was no inoculation to prevent that disease until about 1940 when the veterinary profession was able to stamp out the disease with a preventable inoculation. When I returned from WW II in 1945 there were still susceptible animals presented in all phases of that plague.
In the majority of cases the virus would apparently invade the brain initially resulting in what was often called "chewing gum spasms." That early sign was one of eventual death as the virus progressed to massive convulsions before death. I do not recall one case with those chewing gum spasms that recovered in perhaps thousands of cases I observed over the years. I pleaded with virologists at Yale's School of Medicine and tried sulfa drugs that were new at that time as well as the new miracle drug, penicillin. Litter after litter of puppies were presented during those early years of my practice. The preventive inoculation was called a godsend. Not infrequently an owner of an infected litter would comment that a puppy had been given away and it was OK. I was frustrated by the lack of my ability to control distemper cases in uninoculated animals and quite regularly the remark that a member of a dumbed litter of puppies was still alive was mentioned. Finally I asked for the name and address of the owner of such an animal. I recall that first phone call. It went something like this, Doctor Whitney, we have on old treatment for a sick dog handed down from the old folks in the family. We gave the puppy a raw egg and whisky.
Another survivor was reported and I phoned to hear the same raw egg and whisky treatment as the only treatment mentioned by the previous phone call. When a week later I got the same message I at least wondered. Shortly after that third call an Old English Sheep dog puppy was presented for a second opinion. His vet had suggested euthanasia because of the early stages of convulsions in that seemingly fairly healthy puppy. We vets were sensitive in those days of being called quacks and how could I suggest raw eggs and whisky to anyone. It seemed like dark age medicine but I told the owner about that treatment and said I did not believe there was any hope but to try it and when it did not work resort to euthanasia. That puppy did not have another early stage spasm and lived out a normal life. One of my daughters and her husband brought a young adult hound home from their local shelter and it had a convulsion and after the initial dose never had another. A neighbor's dog was convulsing when presented and by then I had been thinking about why the new treatment might work on a scientific basis. I had learned in vet school at Auburn U. that raw egg is indigestible in dogs but not, incidentally in cats. Also raw eggs were not a good idea as that food depleted the system of biotin, part of the vitamin B complex. Also I was aware that alcohol depleted the system of B complex. In any event the neighbor's dog was doing well with a normal diet of commercial dog food with no meat as meat is rich in vitamin B. It was over a week later that the neighbors had a cookout and had a pound of nice fresh ground beef left over and they gave it to the dog. In a few hours the dog went into what is called status epilepticus- a continuous convulsion. Hearing about the meat after I had advised against it I was furious and told them there was nothing I could do. I called them in the morning and was told the dog's convulsion let up and they were able to pour the raw egg and whisky down her throat and she seemed fine in the morning.
That was the time when preventive inoculations stamped out that fatal disease and the end of the raw eggs and whisky treatment.
I have another piece of the puzzle of disease control by way of my case of infectious hepatitis type A. The disease had progressed in me for two weeks when my father asked a Yale Medical School authority to visit and advise me. He was Dr, John Paul who happened to be the Chairman of the United Nations Commission on jaundice. I was yellow with the disease and had lost 25 pounds in the two weeks. Dr. Paul asked me a few questions and said he had two suggestions. First, don't take vitamins and second, don't let them get you into a hospital. On returning to the hospital Dr. Paul told my father that statistics show a remarkably higher death rate with those who had taken vitamins than those who had not and also there was a higher death rate of those hospitalized than those who stayed home. Those were strange sounding words from perhaps the world's outstanding authority on my problem. In retrospect Dr. Paul was suggesting that vitamins fertilized the virus that caused the disease. In hospitals with such a disease in which nothing can be tolerated in the stomach without vomiting the vitamins are given by injection.
Now to suggest the relevance of this to the treatment of canine distemper, the treatment seems to deplete the system of nourishment the virus needed to kill the victim.
In conclusion I have had a guilty conscience with the thought that perhaps some diseases of humans might be controlled by raw eggs and whisky. ALS and even Parkinson's for two. I have written to experts suggesting to at least try that ridiculous sounding treatment but have come to the conclusion that almost all human physicians would rather a patient die rather than to suggest such a medieval sounding treatment. Of course I cannot recommend it because veterinarians are licensed to treat all animals on earth other than the "intelligent" one.
Frankly, I am overjoyed to relate the above as I could find no way to get such thinking out to the public. This is all due to my daughter, Lee Ha and her setting me up for Blogging. Thank you, Lee.