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Diagnosis and treatment of botulism in lions
  1. AG Greenwood


Six circus lions (Panthera leo) showed neurological and gastrointestinal signs after consuming casualty broiler chickens. Signs included ataxia, hindlimb paralysis and recumbency. Neurological examination of two affected males showed paralysis of extraocular muscles, fixed dilated pupils and inability to swallow. Replacement fluids and antibiotics were given and Clostridium botulinum type C antitoxin was found in serum samples. Type C antitoxin was not then available and therapy was started in one lioness with guanidine hydrochloride. Convulsions were controlled by diazepam but this animal died. One of the two males was given type C antitoxin; both were given anabolic steroids. All the remaining animals made slow recoveries over varying periods; one lion was recumbent for 41 days. No lion developed respiratory paralysis; other animals which had consumed the chickens remained healthy. Aspects of the treatment of botulism in animals are discussed.

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