Edmund Mullinger Jarvis studied at King's College, London, and qualified as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) in December 1894. Around that time he published his first two papers, both in the Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics, on "A case of invagination of the caecum" (1894) and "A case of vomiting in a horse and its cause" (1895). In 1897 he came to the Cape Colony on a temporary appointment as government veterinary surgeon and during that year worked at Barkley West, Kimberley and Cradock on rinderpest duty. He served as a civil veterinarian in the Army Veterinary Department during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), receiving a medal with two clasps. In January 1901 he assumed duty as government veterinary surgeon at Umtali, Southern Rhodesia (now Mutare, Zimbabwe) under C.E. Gray*. He was acting chief veterinary surgeon of the territory from April to September 1907. During these years he worked on several livestock diseases previously unknown in southern Africa, including east coast fever. One of his interests was the advancement of livestock breeding. During 1902 he delivered the first paper before the Umtali Section of the Rhodesia Scientific Association, on "The influence of bacilli in disease".
In 1910 Jarvis qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (FRCVS) with a thesis on polylymphangitis in horses. The next year he became a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science and delivered a paper on "The latency of African Coast Fever" at its annual congress, which was held in Bulawayo in 1911. The paper was published in the Report of the meeting (pp. 226-231). During World War I (1914-1918) he was awarded the military cross after serving in the South West Africa campaign (1914-1915) and the German East Africa campaign (1916-1917). During the latter campaign he studied a number of conditions due to secondary infection of wounds caused by the bites of ticks in horses and other animals ("Report on ixodic lymphangitis", Veterinary Journal, 1918). In 1920 he joined the Division of Veterinary Services of the Union of South Africa and was stationed as government veterinary officer in Middelburg, Cape Province, until he was transferred to Cape Town in 1927. After resigning his post in 1928 he returned to Mutare, Zimbabwe, to farm. He joined the South African Veterinary Medical Association in 1924 and in 1929 was still registered as a veterinarian, stationed at Mutare.