Jonas Hollsten to Carl Linnaeus,
27 May 1754 n.s.
L1756. Jonas HollstenJonas Hollsten (1717-1789). Swedish.
Jonas HollstenHollsten, Jonas (1717-1789).
Hollsten’s hopes that Linnaeus will not be bored by the following discussion about some diseases that have afflicted the reindeer in Luleå Lappmark.
As with other cattle, reindeer suffer not just from one disease but several, of which some are more serious than others. The most common, and that cause losses every year are:
1. Hoof disease, with swelling around the crown of the hoof, that appears, it is said, when the sun is hottest, and within a few days the reindeer finds it difficult to move. Because the Lapps are generally permanently on the move to find new pastures for their animals the occurrence of lame stock is a major problem and often, after long consideration and realisation that they have nothing with which a cure can be achieved, they find themselves forced to kill these animals.
This is a disease the Lapps call “Peckikattja tacka” and is found in the thighs of the reindeer where the flesh is thickest. It starts with a small swelling that opens and festers with a continuous flow of some matter. It then blackens and rots, when pieces start to fall off. The Lapps have no remedy for this, and generally lose their animals. However, some manage to survive and become healthy.
This is “Rubbi”, or a disease causing sores on the teats. It starts with a minor form of eczema that later becomes more severe. The reindeer do not die but their suckling calves suffer as they get mouth sores and are unable to feed themselves and thus sometimes there are considerable losses for that reason.
“Sudda tacka”, or languishing disease, is among the most difficult. It occurs both during the summer and winter and seems to be increasing in occurrence. The Lapps say that it has been prevalent in Luleå Lappmark for the last 12-14 years. The signs that a reindeer is suffering from this disease are that he starts to pant fairly hard and unusually, obtaining larger nostrils than other reindeer, swollen eyes that are fixed for long periods, becoming ill-tempered and chasing away any that approach him. However, he eats normally but does not chew the cud and lies down more frequently that the other reindeer. When the Lapps notice these symptoms they know that this cannot be any other disease and that, to their knowledge, no reindeer has ever recovered from it. Consequently, the animal must be killed if the Lapp is to have any benefit from the hide which otherwise will become as thin as paper.
Hollsten continues with a discourse of internal symptoms and various methods the Lapps use in attempts to master these diseases, examples being tar that prevents oestrum rangiferinum from laying eggs in the sores, and in the case of “Sudda tacka” to make a birch bark extract to give the animals. They have also tried the same cure on reindeer as they use on themselves when feeling poorly, namely “brännvin” .
In closing, Hollsten gives Linnaeus a snow report (very little), a farming report (fields were sown on May 13th and 14th), and a rain report , the first rain came on May 25th. He mentions that all water-wells became frozen to the bottom early in the previous autumn owing to the lack of snow, but had now thawed, but that so far no leaves had appeared on the trees. He promised Linnaeus that he will collect a herbarium, but can do so only if such weather is avoided.