Stray Voltage

    Sam Milham, an 85 year old physician and an epidemiologist, has authored a book entitled "Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization.”  He claims many diseases of civilization (ranging from from cancer through many chronic diseased to early death) are related to electromagnetic interference (EMI) — dirty electricity.

    He is probably right.  Stray voltage, a common name for EMI exposure, is common in dairy cattle.  Over the years, I have seen many herds with EMI exposure.   Stray voltage can be easily measured with a standard volt meter by measuring the voltage from “cow contact” to ground.  Fluorescent light fixtures and electric fly-zappers were often the culprits.  Old or damaged wiring with poor grounding is frequently at fault.  Premises located between  a power substation and a heavy user of electrical power are subjected damaging electrical ground currents.

   Common symptoms include lower milk production, lower reproductive performance,  and foot and hoof problems.  Other symptoms indicative of a damaged immune system may be present. Animals are about 10 times more sensitive to EMI than humans. Animals are often hesitant to enter an area with high levels of exposure.  

   Correction of stray voltage almost always involves major revisions to the electrical system.  It can be expensive and sometimes not even possible. 

   EMI can obviously affect any species — animals as well as humans.  I have occasionally seen EMI problems in confinement swine facilities.  Given the chance, most animals will avoid areas with high levels of EMI.  Any animal - including horses - confined to an area of stray voltage will be affected.  



Given the pervasive presence of electricity in our environment  —from cell phones to overhead power lines — it is impossible to avoid the effects. 

    If you, or any of your animals, are showing symptoms of immune depletion unresponsive to treatment I would recommend you have the premise checked for stray voltage or EMI.