[Day 1742 2019-07-03]
Lesson17-1 A man-made disease
In the early days of the settlement of Australia, enterprisingsettlers unwisely introduced the European rabbit. This rabbit had no naturalenemies in the Antipodes, so that it multiplied with that promiscuous abandoncharacteristic of rabbits. It overran a whole continent. It caused devastationby burrowing and by devouring the herbage which might have maintained millionsof sheep and cattle. Scientists discovered that this particular variety ofrabbit (and apparently no other animal) was susceptible to a fatal virusdisease, myxomatosis. By infecting animals and letting them loose in theburrows, local epidemics of this disease could be created. Later it was foundthat there was a type of mosquito which acted as the carrier of this diseaseand passed it on to the rabbits. So while the rest of the world was trying toget rid of mosquitoes, Australia was encouraging this one.
[Day 1743 2019-07-04]
Lesson 17-2 A man-made disease
It effectively spread the disease all over the continent anddrastically reduced the rabbit population. It later became apparent thatrabbits were developing a degree of resistance to this disease, so that therabbit population was unlikely to be completely exterminated. There were hopes,however, that the problem of the rabbit would become manageable.
Ironically, Europe, which had bequeathed therabbit as a pest to Australia, acquired this man-made disease as a pestilence.A French physician decided to get rid of the wild rabbits on his own estate andintroduced myxomatosis. It did not, however, remain within the confines of hisestate. It spread through France, Where wild rabbits are not generally regardedas a pest but as sport and a useful food supply, and it spread to Britain wherewild rabbits are regarded as a pest but where domesticated rabbits, equallysusceptible to the disease, are the basis of a profitable fur industry. Thequestion became one of whether Man could control the disease he had invented.