I feel I ought to add my tuppence worth here, I am only a Masters student
but my first degree was in veterinary medicine.
When used correctly veterinary pathological terminology will cover all the
potential pathologies that zooarcs will see. The terminology is designed to
be purely descriptive and applicable across all species. That way a vet in
practice can describe a lesion of unknown aetiology, which they have never
seen before, to a colleague when seeking a referral or advice. Confusion
arises because in human medicine, where only one species is being dealt
with, a descriptive pathological term is often misused as the diagnostic
term for the most common cause of a particular pathology. It is quite
appropriate to talk about ankylosing spondylitis in a horse even though
this means something quite different than the same term used in human
medicine. If you think this is problematical buy me a drink and ask about
terms for neoplastic conditions and the problems of using human hospital
histopathology labs at some point. : )
With regards older terms for diseases. There are many and they are still in
use and not just for horses either. The problem with such terms is twofold.
Firstly they are very localised and dialectic, a Welsh and a Cumbrian hill
farmer will have very different terms for the same sheep diseases. Secondly
many such terms predate the current theory of medicine and are thus used
for collections of symptoms rather than a condition in the modern sense of
the word. I would suggest that if we wish to look at animal disease in the
past we must do so with a vet's eye. If we can diagnosis the problem in
modern terms we can deduce the symptoms seen and thus what a contemporary
human would have considered wrong with the animal. This cannot be done in
reverse as any one set of symptoms may have several possible aetiologies.
I realise that I have a certain bias due to my training but I'm confident
that zooarcs will not need to invent a whole new terminology. I would
however suggest that anyone wishing to work in veterinary palaeopathology
could do a lot worse than buying a copy of Bailliere's comprehensive
veterinary dictionary (Bailliere Tindall). Oh, and my wife (who is a
practising veterinary surgeon) says that the idea of buying vets drinks
should be encouraged.
Cheers, Simon McGrory.