Urbanus von Backström qualified as a veterinarian (BVSc) in the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Pretoria at Onderstepoort and in 1944 was appointed as Veterinary Officer by the government of the Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana). He was stationed at Maun and was in charge of Ngamiland (North West District). Here, on the shores of Lake Ngami, he made the first diagnosis of lumpy skin disease in southern Africa (first called Ngami cattle disease). In 1947 he returned to South Africa and set up practice in Krugersdorp. He served as external examiner in veterinary medicine for the Veterinary Faculty at Onderstepoort for many years.