Gerard McGovern, a vet based in Co. Cavan, was recently called to a calf with septic arthritis/joint ill.
A six-week-old calf presented with an 8/10 lameness and a hugely distended, painful carpal joint of two weeks duration, he explained on his popular Instagram account.
The calf received treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but McGovern had to take further action.
Following sedation with xylazine & ketamine and local infiltration of lignocaine into a soft area of the skin, the joint was drained & then lavaged, using Ringer’s Lactate.
“The lavage continued until the fluid ran clear (about a litre was required). A large amount of pus and clumps of fibrin was drained from the joint.”
“With a little luck, lots of TLC & a bit of time, this calf might walk somewhat normally again.”
Septic arthritis is a common problem of young calves. All cases of lameness in calves less than 8 weeks of age, should be considered septic, unless proven otherwise, McGovern added.
He explained that most cases of joint ill are associated with entry of infection through the navel and quite often, there is an associated navel infection (omphalophlebitis). “Spraying the navel with an iodine solution after birth and clean, dry bedding are essential to prevent this problem.”
“A variety of pathogens can be isolated from infected joints, including A.pyogenes, Streptococcus apps., E. coli, Fusobacterium nerophorum, Pasturella multocida.”
The UCD graduate outlined that in the early stages of the disease, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat the condition but treatment needs to continue for up to 2 weeks.
“If more than one joint is affected, as is often the case, the prognosis is poor.”
“The pathology seen with septic arthritis includes loss of articular cartilage, acute synovitis, thickening of the joint capsule & sepsis in the growth plate.” his post concluded.
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