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Clinical findings and treatment of 30 cattle with botulism
  1. U. Braun, DrMedVet1,
  2. K. Feige, DrMedVet1,
  3. G. Schweizer, DrMedVet1 and
  4. A. Pospischil, DrMedVet2
  1. 1Department of Farm Animals
  2. 2Institute of Veterinary Pathology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract

The clinical signs, the results of haematological and biochemical analyses and the treatment of 30 cattle with botulism are described, and the signs of the 13 cattle that survived are compared with those of the 17 that were euthanased owing to the disease. The cattle originated from 11 farms that had experienced an outbreak of botulism. The most important clinical sign in all the cattle was a reduction in the strength of the tongue; excessive salivation and difficulty in swallowing were observed in 20 of the animals, and the ears of 15 of them drooped. In 21 of the cattle, reaction to pricking of the head and body with a hypodermic needle was either absent or slight. Twelve of the animals had an unsteady, slow, difficult gait, and nine were unable to stand. A significantly higher proportion of the cattle which were euthanased had marked changes in behaviour and condition, anorexia, severely reduced skin turgor, weak tongues, a low rectal temperature, a high heart rate and a low blood pH; 11 were euthanased immediately after a clinical examination and six were euthanased one to five days after the initiation of treatment because their condition had deteriorated. Thirteen of the animals were treated for three to 23 days and were healthy when they were discharged. The treatment consisted of an intravenous infusion of 10 to 20 litres of glucose saline per day and the daily administration of fresh ruminal juice. Follow-up by telephone several months later revealed that all 13 animals had recovered completely.

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