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EPIZOOTIC

The "EPIZOOTIC," or "Canadian Horse Epidemic," struck Cleveland in Oct. 1872, severely affecting the city's transportation for almost a month. Also referred to as the "epizootic catarrh," it was thought to be a type of influenza originating in Canada, affecting only horses. The virus spread along the U.S. East Coast during early Oct. 1872 and rapidly moved westward. False reports of the virus circulated through Cleveland for 2 weeks before the first case was officially acknowledged by veterinarians on 28 Oct. Within a week, transportation in Cleveland was brought to a virtual standstill. The public stables were hardest hit, while private stables suffered less. The Fire Department was forced to use stricken horses at reduced speed, and several streetcar stables closed completely. Many of Cleveland's metal industries had to reduce workers' hours. In some cases, oxen were used in place of horses. Cleveland suffered less than most eastern cities, however. By the time the epidemic reached Cleveland, it was known that dry feed and not putting the horses back to work too early would prevent fatalities, although some did occur. Veterinarians also urgently warned against "bleeding" as a cure. By the end of November, most of the city's horses had fully recovered.