Copyright
United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

. (page 14 of 56)
Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 14 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


of a bone. A blow on the head may rupture a blood-vessel within the
cranial cavity, and the blood escaping therefrom (either on the surface
of the brain or into the structure of the brain) produces compression
of the brain substance. Or the injury may cause inflammation, the
result of which may be compression due to the formation of pus.

Compression from the escape of blood may be suspected when the in-
sensibility continues. But when due to the formation of pus the animal
partially recovers, and after three or four days have elapsed becomes
again unconscious.

In concussion of the brain, during the first stage, when the surface
of the body is cold, cover the body and legs with warm blankets. It is
useless to attempt to administer medicines while the animal is insensible
and can not swallow. Cold water or crushed ice should bo applied to
the head, and when consciousness returns the purgative drench as mi-
vised for encephalitis should be administered. The animal should be
assisted to its feet and put in a comfortable place, free from light and
noise. Only small quantities of food, in the form of bran slops or grass,
should be given for some time. Bleeding should not be performed
unless the case runs into encephalitis, when the general treatment ad-
vised under that head may be followed.

EPILEPSY.

This affection is charav.teri/ed by the onset of sudden convulsions.
The animal may appear to be in a fair state of health, ;\s u general



122 DISEASES OF CATTLE.

thing, but at any time, in the stable or in the field, it inay have an
attack, stagger, fall, and violent convulsions ensue; the urine and dung
may be voided involuntarily during the fit, and the breathing may be of
that snoring description called stertorous. Epilepsy must not be con-
founded with vertigo the fainting which is an effect of heart troubles.

The exact cause or causes of epilepsy in the majority of cases arc
unknown. Post-mortem examinations, in many instances, have failed
to discover any lesion in connection with the brain or nervous system ;
while in other instances disease of the brain has been found in the form
of thickening of the membranes, abscesses find tumors; and in some
cases the affection has been manifested in connection with a diseased
condition of the blood. The cause has also been traced to reflex irri-
tation, due to teething, worms, and chronic indigestion.

Treatment. When the affection is due to the last-named causes
treatment may be successful if the cause is removed. If there are
symptoms of worms or of indigestion, follow the general treatment
advised for those troubles under their proper heads. If due to irrita-
tation caused by teething, the inflamed gums must be lanced. Exami-
nation of the mouth often develops the fact that one of the temporary
teeth causes much irritation by remaining unshed, and thereby inter-
fering with the growth of a permanent tooth. The offending tooth
should be extracted. When the cause of epilepsy can not be dis-
covered, it must be confessed that there is no prospect of a cure in such
cases. However, some benefit may be expected from the occasional
administration of a purgative dose of medicine. A pound of Epsom
salts dissolved in a quart of warm water, for a cow of average size,
may be given as a drench once or twice a month. In addition to the
purgative, 4 drams of bromide of potassium, dissolved in the drinking
water, three times a day, has proved very beneficial in some cases.

SUNSTROKE PROSTRATION FROM HEAT.

Owing to the fact that cattle are seldom put to work at which they
would have to undergo severe exertion, especially in collars, they are
not frequently prostrated by the extreme heat of the summer months.
When atpasture they select the coolest places in the shade of trees, etc.,
when the heat becomes oppressive, and thereby avoid, as much as
possible, the effects of it. But nevertheless cases are not uncommon
when cattle suffer from the so-called sunstroke.

Cattle that have been kept up for the purpose of fattening, when
driven some distance in very hot weather, are the most liable to be
prostrated, but it must be remembered that it is not really necessary
for the animal to be exposed to the rays of the sun, as those confined
in hot, close places may suffer. This often happens in shipping, when
they are crowded together in cars.

Symptoms. The premonitory signs are those of exhaustion dullness,
panting, frothing at the mouth, tongue hanging out, irregular gait, un-



DISEASES OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 123

easiness, palpitation, when, if the circumstances which tend to the
prostration are not mitigated, the animal staggers or sways from side to
side, falls, struggles for awhile, and then gradually becomes quiet, or
the struggles may continue, vrith repeated but ineffectual efforts to
regain a standing position. In serious cases the attack may be very
sudden, unconsciousness occurring without any distressing premonitory
symptoms. The less serious form is known to the colored cattle drivers
as " overhet " (overheated).

Treatment. At first, when not very serious, removal to a quiet
sheltered place, witli a few days on a reduced diet, is all that need be
done. When the animal has fallen, apply cold water or ice to the head;
rub the body and limbs with cloths or wisps of straw, and continue the
rubbing for a considerable time. If the power of swallowing is not lost
(which may be ascertained by pouring a little cold water iuto the
mouth), give 3 drams of liquor ammonia fort., diluted with a quart of
cold water. Be very careful in drenching the animal when lying down.
Kepoat the drench in a half hour, and an hour after the first one has
been given. Instead of the ammonia, a drench composed of 3 ounces
of spirits of nitrous ether in a pint of water may be given, if more con-
venient, but in all cases the ammonia drench is preferable. If uncon-
sciousness continues, so that a drench can not be administered, the
same quantity of ammonia and water may be injected with a syringe
into the rectum. The popular aqua ammonia, commonly called " harts-
horn," will do as well as the liquor ammonia fort., but as it is weaker
than tin- hitter, the dose for a cow is about one and a half ounce, which
>hould be diluted with a quart of water before it is given to the animal,
i as a drench or an enema. When ammonia can not be obtained
quickly, 2 ounces of oil of turpentine (spirits of turpentine), shaken with
a pint of milk, may be injected into the rectum, and will act beneficially
until the ammonia is procured.

As soon as the animal is able to rise, it should be assisted and
moved to the nearest shelter. All the cold water it will drink should be
allowed. The ammonia or spirits of nitrous ether drench should be
administered every three hours, so long as there is much failure of
strength. The diet should be limited for several days; bran slops and
a little grass. When signs of returning strength are presented, 12
ounces of Epsom salts dissolved in a quart of warm water may be given
in those cases which have been down and unconscious, but do not give
it while much weakness remains, which may be for several days after
the attack. It is hardly necessary to mention that when an animal is
suffering from heat prostration, bleeding should not be resorted to as
a remedial measure. The writer is well aware of the fact that they arc
often slaughtered by butchers to save further trouble and probable loss.

IN.TI'RIES TO THE SPINAL COH1>.

The spinal cord is liable to commission from blows and falls, and
paralysis, to a greater or less extent, may be the result. Fracture, with



124 DISEASES OF CATTLE.

displacement of the bones (vertebrae) which form the spinal column,
by compressing the spinal cord produces paralysis, which varies in its
effect according to the part of the cord that is compressed. If the
fracture is above the middle of the neck death soon follows, as commu-
nication between the brain and diaphragm the essential muscle of
inspiration is stopped. The phrenic nerve, which supplies the dia-
phragm with motor impulse, is formed by the union of spinal nerves
below the middle of the neck, and when the cord is compressed between
the origin of this nerve and the brain the diaphragm is paralyzed and
death must result. When the fracture is farther down in the neck,
posterior to the origin of the phrenic nerve, the breathing continues,
but there is paralysis in all parts posterior to the fracture, including the
fore and hind legs. Whenthe fracture is in the region of the loins the
hind legs are paralyzed, but the fore legs are not. If the fracture is in
the sacrum (the division of the spinal column between the loins and the
tail) the tail alone is paralyzed.

As a matter of course, when the back is broken there is no remedy ;
the animal should be bled to death and converted into meat at once.
The animal not being able to rise after the accident, together with the
fact that sensation is lost, as evidenced by sticking a pin into the para-
lyzed parts, should decide the question.

PARALYSIS.

Paralysis, or loss of motion in a part, may be due to a lesion of the
brain, of the spinal cord, or of a nerve. It may also be caused by reflex
irritation. When the paralysis affects both sides of the body, posterior
to a point, it is further designated by the technical name of paraplegia.
When one side of the body (a lateral half) is paralyzed, the technical
term liemiplegia is applied to the affection. When paralysis is caused
by a lesion of a nerve, the paralysis is confined to the particular part
supplied by the affected nerve.

As already pointed out, paralysis may be due to concussion of the
spine; fracture of a bone of the spinal column with consequent com-
pression of the spinal cord; concussion of the brain; compression of the
brain. An injury to one side of the brain may produce paralysis of
the same side of the head, and of the opposite side of the body hemi-
pleyia. Paralysis may occur in connection with parturient apoplexy,
lead poisoning, ergotism, etc.

Paraplegia, like other diseases, has been traced to moldy food. In one
outbreak on record, complete paralysis of the posterior parts of the
bodies of seven oxen was attributed to this cause. Reflex paraplegia,
associated with indigestion and impaction of the rumen, is recognized
by practitioners. This is usually a mild form, and generally passes
away in a few days, especially when the cause indigestion, impactiou
of the rumen responds to proper treatment. Cows heavy with calf
are sometimes affected with a form of paraplegia, which usually at-



DISEASES OP THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 125

tacks them from about a month to a few days before calving. Appar-
ently they are in good health in every respect except the inability to .
stand up, on account of the paralysis of the hind quarters. This form
is generally attributed to compression of the nerves (and probably the
vessels to some extent) of the hind parts by the enlarged condition of
the womb. As a rule the animal recovers after calving, and requires
only general care, such as good bedding and regular diet, and if the
bowels become constipated at any time two quarts of warm soapsuds
should be injected into the rectum occasionally. If the enemas are not
sufficient to keep the bowels in proper condition, a half pound of Epsom
salts dissolved in a quart of warm water may be given as a drench.
If the cow desires to shift her position from one side to the other nec-
essary assistance should be given. If the paralysis continues for
several days after the calf is born the cow should have a purgative
1 pound of Epsom salts dissolved in a quart of warm water ; also 1
drams of pulverized nux vomica, every night and morning, on the food 3
if she will eat it, or with some water as a drench. The blistering com-
pound recommended in the treatment of encephalitis may be rubbed
well over the loins.

The cow is occasionally attacked with a form of paralysis after calv-
ing not connected with parturient apoplexy. It may be associated
with inflammation of the womb, and some authorities say that it is
caused by injuries to nerves while calving. One or both hind legs may
be affected, or more or less of the body may be involved. The treat-
ment is similar to that for the variety occuring before parturition, viz.,
purgatives, nux vomica, enemas, blistering the loins, and the general
care recommended for the former affection. It is sometimes necessary
to apply a red hot iron in lines over the loins, but it is best to have a
veterinarian perform the operation.

The treatment for the form of paralysis associated with indigestion
or impaction of the rumen (paunch) is much the same as in the forego-
ing cases; but when the paunch is overloaded the purgative should
be more drastic. The following compound is perhaps as good as any:
1 pound of Epsom salts; pound common salt; one ounce of pulverized
gamboge; 1 ounce of pulverized ginger. These ingredients must be
well stirred or shaken with about pints of warm water. The enema of
warm soapsuds should be thrown into the rectum at least every half
hour. If the bowels do not respond to the purgative within twenty-four
hours another pound of Epsom salts may be administered, dissolved in
a quart of warm watT. After the bowels respond to the purgative, and
especially in those cases when the gait remains unsteady for a few days,
give the following: pulverized nux vomica, 4 ounces; bicarbonate of
soda, 20 ounces; mix and make 10 powders. Give one every night and
morning. It is often necessary to unload an engorged paunch by an
operation called rumenotony, for the description of which, ami for fuller
particulars of the treatment of indigestion and impaction of the rumen,



126 DISEASES OF CATTLE.

the reader is referred to the articles on those subjects, under their
proper heads. (See p. 31.)

There are instances when cows will persist in lying down (in spite of
all efforts that are made to compel them to stand up), when it can not
really be said that they are paralyzed. They have sensation in all
parts 5 they can move all their feet; they can change their position;
and in fact every function seems to be normally performed, but they
obstinately refuse to rise, or even make an effort to do so. Cases of
this kind have been slaughtered, as it was an utter impossibility to get
the animal on its feet. However, there are instances when a cow after
refusing to rise when all other means had been tried, quickly jumped
to her feet and showed fright when her inveterate enemy, a dog, was
induced to torment her.

Hemiplegia, or paralysis of one side of the body, is a rare affection in
cattle. Prof. Williams records a case in his " Veterinary Medicine "
as follows :

In the case of the cow the attack was of an acute kind. The animal was grazing
in a field with a lot of others, and was left quite well at milking time in the morn-
ing. The field being some distance from the house it was not seen again before
evening. It was then found prostrate on the ground, lying upon its left side, and
was unable to rise. When I saw it I observed the following symptoms : The left ear
was pendulous, left eyelid drooping and closed, the eye squinted outwards. The
left cheek hung down, the angle of the mouth was lower than on the opposite side,
the muscles were loose and flaccid, and the lips drawn to the right side. The tongue
protruded, and when put into the mouth was drawn to the right side. The neck
was twisted and the head drawn to the left side. Deglutition was imperfect, but
the breathing was not especially affected. The superficial blood-vessels of the right
side "were engorged with blood, and stood out prominently all over the trunk and
neck. The same side was warm, whilst the opposite side was cold, and the hair was
pin-feathered. In endeavoring to place the animal on a hurdle for the purpose of
removing it to a shed it was observed that it rolled over from the left to the right
side, on which side only could it be made to lie. The bowels were constipated and
the belly tympanitic, the sphincter ani was rather relaxed, the vulva flaccid, and the
vagina protruding. The animal was quite conscious, but inclined to somnolency.
It was bled, a purgative administered, and the back was fomented and dressed with
a strong ammonia liniment. On the following morning it was able to rise, but both
the legs of the right side remained partially paralyzed for some weeks. The affec-
tion of the face, however, passed away during the first night, and it was able to par-
take of food on the following morning.

The foregoing quotation so fully describes hemiplegia that it is un-
necessary to add any more to it, unless it is to say that, should the
reader have a cow with a similar attack, the treatment is about the
same as described for paraplegia.

TETANUS LOCKJAW.

Cattle are subject to tetanus, but it is a comparatively rare affection
among this class of animals. The writer practices in a district where
tetanus is almost as common among horses and mules as any other dis-
ease, and in fact it occasionally appears as an enzootic among them;
but it is one of the rarest diseases in cattle he is called to treat.



DISEASES OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 127

Tetanus consists of a continued spasm of the voluntary muscles. The
spasmodic contraction of the muscles, although persistent, is sometimes
greater or more severe than the average during the course of the dis-
ease. The exacerbations, or increase of the violence of the spasm, may
occur without any cause other than the nature of the disease itself, but
they are frequently due to noises or the manner of going about the
animal by those in attendance, and to other causes that excite the
patient.

Other technical terms are used to designate the particular forms of
tetanus, but they only refer to the regions of the body that are involved
in the spasm. Thus if the muscles of the head, particularly those
used in mastication (or chewing), are affected, it is called trismus; and
it is this form which gives rise to the popular name u lockjaw." When
the muscles of the upper part of the neck and back are affected the
head and tail are elevated, and the name applied is opisthotonos. If
the muscles of one side only are affected, the head is drawn to that
side, and the disease is called tetanus lateralis or pletirosthotonos. If
the muscles on the lower part of the neck and body are affected, the
mouth is drawn towards the breast, when the term einprosthotonos is
applied. In cattle the disease is characterized by the symptoms of
trismus and opisthotonos combined; the other forms have never been
met with in the experience of the writer.

Two varieties of tetanus have been universally recognized : When the
disease exists in connection with a visible wound, it is called traumatic
tetanus. When no wound is discoverable the affection is called idio-
pathic tetanus. The writer is of opinion that these distinctions are
superfluous, by which he means to infer that in all cases the disease is
from the same cause. In the great majority of instances there is no
difficulty in finding a wound, and in many cases more than one wound.
In the cases called idiopathic one can only say that no wound is dis-
covered ; one can not say positively that no wound exists. There may
be a wound in the mouth, or in any part of the intestinal canal. When
it is considered how small the wound is in the foot from the prick of a
nail in so many cascx followed by lockjaw in the horse, it is not dillicult
to recognize the fact that there may be many small wounds that are
invisible about an animal. It is a familiar opinion often expressed
that there is danger in a pin-scratch. One may easily appreciate the fact
that there may be more small scratches than one on the hide of an ani-
mal thickly covered with hair, that will defy detection unless the animal
is shaved. Holding the.se views, the writer will not differentiate
tatween the, two varieties, but will describe the disease under the gen-
eral name, tetanus. It must be understood that the writer has no
desire to do violence to the opinions of others; nor docs he so strongly
assert his own opinions merely for the purpose of airing them; the real
objiM-t is that the most careful examination be made in every instance,
HO that eases \vill not be classed as idiopathic simply because a casual
glance over the animal fails to detect a wound.



128 DISEASES OF CATTLE.



Games. Tetanus has been attributed to many different causes by as
many different writers, and while some of the theories may appear
plausible to one observer, to another they seem ridiculous. To refer to
all the conditions that have been ascribed as causes for this affection is
a greater task than the writer has desire to attempt. However, a few
of them will be mentioned, to convey an idea of the diversity of the
opinions held by those who have written on the subject: Hereditary
predisposition, bad food, exposure to cold and wet, sudden alterations
of temperature, excessive fatigue, overdriving, etc. All authorities
agree on one point, however, and that is, that tetanus is most frequently
met with in connection with a wound.

It should be remarked that it is not only large wounds, nor very pain-
ful wounds, that are followed by tetanus, as the affection is often asso-
ciated with wounds of the most trivial character. The writer has
attended cases where the wounds were so small that they were only dis-
covered after repeated examinations. One case in particular is worthy
of mention. When first examined, trismus was so pronounced that the
teeth could not be forced more than a half inch apart. A thorough
examination failed to find a wound. The next day another examina-
tion was as fruitless. On the third day a small nodule was felt on the
skin of the cheek ; the hair was parted, and a little crust or scab' picked
off. The hostler then stated, what had escaped his memory until thus
reminded, that about a week before, while putting hay in the manger,
the point of a prong of the fork caine in contact with that part, but the
wound was so slight that it was entirely forgotten. That small sore was
treated antiseptically, and the animal made a good recovery. The
writer has not the least doubt that the cause was in that small wound.

In another instance, after a very careful examination, the case was
about to be put down among the number of those which are generally
called idiopathic, when a few hairs on the base of the neck were
observed to be matted together; and on a closer examination of that
part a small abrasion was found which was treated antiseptically until
it was healed. The animal was discharged sound in two weeks.

It is a fact (in the experience of the writer) that large or painful
wounds are less liable to be followed by tetanus than are the slighter
injuries, for the reason that the former usually receive attention, while
the latter are neglected.

A wound in any part of the body may be followed by tetanus. The
particular place where a wound is located is of small import so far as
the cause is concerned, although it is of the greatest importance when
the treatment is considered, as, for instance, a wound that is located
internally can not be topically treated.

Tetanus may ensue within a few days after the infliction of a wound,
but the attack usually occurs between one and two weeks after the
injury, when, in many cases, the Avound is nearly healed. In instances
where healing is retarded, the wound remaining open, neglected, or



DISEASES OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 129

badly treated, the disease may set in at any time. In one case of
which the writer has knowledge the animal was attacked fonr months
after receiving the wound in the foot.

Operations (as well as accidental wounds) may be followed by teta-
nus. However, it is not now so common a sequel to operations as it
formerly was, for the reason that careful veterinarians use antiseptic
precautions as much as possible.

It has perhaps followed castration oftener than any other operation,
due no doubt, in the great majority of instances, to uncleanliness both
in regard to the instruments used and to the hands of the operator, as
well as the manner of operating. But of course it may follow the
operation in some instances when care has been taken in respect to
cleanliness. In such cases the cause gains access to the wound after
the operation has been performed.

In an instance of which the writer has knowledge the ordinary
operation of tapping for tympany ("wind colic ") was followed by lock-
jaw. In this case certainly the disease could not have been due to the



Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 14 of 56)