Ethnoveterinary medicines are often not as fast-working and potent as
allopathic medicines. They may therefore be less suitable to control and
treat epidemic and endemic infectious diseases (e.g., foot-and-mouth
disease, rinderpest, haemorrhagic septicaemia, anthrax, blackquarter,
rabies), and acute life-threatening bacterial infections (e.g.,
generalised cases of coli- or pyogenes mastitis). For these problems,
modern drugs might be the best choice.
But for common diseases and more chronic conditions such as colds, skin
diseases, worms, wounds, reproductive disorders, nutritional
deficiencies, and mild diarrhoea, ethnoveterinary medicine has much to
offer and can be a cheap and readily available alternative to costly
imported drugs. For some diseases, a combination of modern and local
remedies and management practices might be preferable.
Even with infectious diseases, ethnoveterinary treatments should not be
dismissed out-of-hand. Many drugs used in chemotherapy are based on
chemical substances of plant origin, or on the semi-synthetic
derivatives of such substances. Some local preventive methods are
effective and simple to apply; an example is the pox vaccination
conducted by pastoralists.
The search for alternatives is especially
important, as nowadays any unnecessary use of antibiotics and other
chemical drugs is discouraged in the light of residue problems and the
growing resistance of micro-organisms to some drugs. Projects should
therefore explore whether local treatments are available, and should
validate practices that are promising.
Mathias-Mundy and McCorkle 1989, Martin et al. 2001