HELP!! Somethings wrong

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SKF

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Apr 24, 2007
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We have a Irish Whiskey bull who just turned 12 months old and he has developed some strange symptoms.  It started about 2 weeks ago he acted like his foot hurt. Looked all over could not find anything wrong. Well this Tuesday he was running a 105 temp and could not walk. Called the vet he came out thought it could be some kind of poisoning or hear related. He also thought he might be in organ failure. He did blood work eveything came back okay. The temp is gone but he is having a lot of difficulty with his back end. He can get up and walk but it is like he is drunk in the back end. Both his back legs will give out and he will fall over. We don't know what to think. It almost appears as some kind of nerve damage or I thought maybe poisoning. I can not think of anything he has done that he would have hurt himself. The vet is stumped and so are we. Any ideas???
 

red

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sorry SKF! any weeds in your area that might cause problems? Is there any cuts or sores on him?

Red
 

SKF

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I have checked him over for any cuts and a few weeks a ago he had a small scrape he got from getting his hoofs done but that has healed. I did find some nightshade but I am having a hard time finding out what the symptoms would be if he ate some.
 

red

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Cows, Cornstalks and Nightshade

With corn harvest in full swing and grass pasture grazing season winding down, it is that time of year when beef producers start sending cattle out to cornstalks; an economical way to extend the grazing season. While agronomic tillage practices and herbicide programs have reduced problem broadleaf weeds and grasses, nightshade seems to be a hard one to control. Nightshade can be toxic to animals (livestock and pets), and especially horses. While not a high risk, still a risk that beef producers should be aware of and manage cattle appropriately.

Black nightshade is a low-branching annual, 1 to 2 feet tall with triangular stems that bear oval, thin-textured, alternate leaves with wavy margins. The tiny white flowers, borne in drooping clusters on lateral stalks between the leaves, resemble tomato flowers. The berry fruit is green when immature, purplish-black when ripe. Bitter nightshade resembles black nightshade except that it is a perennial with climbing stems, the lower leaves are lobed at the base, the flowers are purple and the ripe fruit is red. Silverleaf nightshade, another perennial, gets its common name because of its silvery appearance caused by the numerous fine hairs. The stems and parts of the leaves have short stiff spines, and flowers appear at the end of branches and are pale to deep blue or lavender in color. Horse nettle, a perennial, has yellowish spines on its stem and leaves, and sometimes is hairy. Petals are united with 5 points at the margin, and flowers are light purple to white. Other nightshade family members include: buffalo bur, ornamental Jerusalem cherry, eggplant and the common white potato.

Nightshades commonly grow in fields, open woods, waste areas, pastures, along roadsides and around farm buildings. Nightshade berries are eaten by birds and deer and are spread through their droppings. This makes the plant virtually impossible to isolate and eliminate.

All parts of the plant contain toxic glycoalkaloids, especially the berries. The highest concentration of toxins is in immature berries. The plant is not that palatable and generally is eaten when other forage is not available. Curious or bored pets are particularly at risk. The plant may be a contaminant in hay, where it will still have some reduced toxicity.

Classical signs of nightshade problems are in the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system, i.e. abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, weakness, difficulty breathing, depression, convulsions and death is possible, although rare. Contact a veterinarian immediately if nightshade poisoning is suspected.

Some management options to reduce nightshade-poisoning risk:

Defer grazing those cornstalks with higher levels of nightshade

Keep a closer watch on livestock grazing nightshade invested areas

Allow hard frosts to wilt plants and cause berries to drop

Do not over graze nightshade infested cornstalks

Fence livestock out of areas dense with nightshade

A good website for information and color photos of nightshade is: http://www.vth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/.

10/01

 

SKF

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I mentioned nightshade to the vet his answer was maybe, not much help. We are always having to look for nighshade it shows up everywhere it is a real pain. If it is nightshade how long does it usaully take to recover or do they recover? Thanks for the website info I am going to order the book on there about poisons plants and animals.
 

fluffer

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Springfield, Ohio
This is a shot in the dark, and the vets on this site may be able to say yes or no- My first thought though was micoplasma.  We have had a couple of stocker cattle get it shortly after we get them.  I don't know a whole lot about it, but I know it can present in a lot of different symptoms.  One heifer we had was bloated real bad, then we got to looking and her neck (along her dewlap and brisket) was swollen.  Even the vet said it looked like she had been bit by a snake.  We are in west central Ohio, and we don't have rattle snakes here.  He said it was micoplasma.  Then another ones both front legs were all swollen and her hocks.  She lived (the other one did not) but she was real hard doing and didn't gain hardly any weight all summer.  Another heifer had a head tilt, like she had an ear infection or something, the vet said that was also micoplasma.  I forget now what you treat them with(sorry) but I know you want to stay away from some drugs if they do have micoplasma.  I guess it harbors in the ground once you have it.  We haven't had a problem with it since.  Just a thought.
Good luck with him, and hope things get better for him!
 

CAB

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Corning,Iowa
  Just a question, heel flies, grub migration through the spinal column? Haven't heard much about grubs since the dvent of ivermectin.
 

DL

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OK these are my thoughts based on your description - it seems that the back end doesn't work but the front end does and he is "normal" in attitude/mentation (if bulls mentate) etc

Globally
1. Trauma
2. Infection
3. Toxicants
4. Tumors (unlikely with age)

From your description it sounds as if there is an issue with the spinal cord or nerves in the back end - the fact that both back legs appear not to work implies that it is something in the middle (so to speak) - so spinal cord would be high on my list. It could also be something in the brain but that is much less likely.

My first thought would be trauma - bulls do some kinda stupid things - is he alone? with other bulls? was he breeding cows? the most likely scenerio would be an accident with trauma to the back

Did your vet do a good neuro exam on the bull? Does he feel things on both sides of the back legs? Does he have rectal tone? etc that would give you a big clue

Another thought would be an abscess (or much less likely grubs as mentioned) in the /near the spinal cord from pneumonia (or another infection) - this could give you the same picture

Anotherthought would be  Haemophilus encephalitis - aka thromboembolic meningoencephalitis (TEME) - it is seen in feedlot cattle after an outbreak of pneumonia - while this is possible it usually gives you more generalized signs (ie not localized to the hind end). Mycoplasma does not usually cause neurological disease

I don't know much about toxic plants in general or specifically to Florida - but they usually cause more of a generalized problem, as do things like lead, arsenic etc

There could be several approaches - again I am going to assume that his backend doesn't work and his feet are OK - you could do a bunch of diagnostics that might or might not tell you anything (ie blood work, spinal tap etc) or you could talk to your vet and attack the most likely diagnosis - IMVHO that would be trauma followed by infection - and attack it with vigor - antibiotics and antiinflammatory drugs, stall rest etc - I would suggest that if you don't see some improvement in a couple of days the prognosis is not good, and because it has been going on for a couple of weeks it may not be good....sorry - if I interpreted his problem wrong let me know, DL
 

red

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Thanks DL, appreciate you stepping up! :)
So many possibilities it just blows the little mind.

Red
 

Jill

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Gardner, KS
It sounds a little like the problem we are having with our cow and they think it is neuro and was an injury caused by another cow jumping her.  It has been weeks and she has gotten better, but still has rear end problems, at this point she is on the hamburger list, I wish you better luck with your bull.
 

knabe

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Hollister, CA
if men tate
what do women do?

they shear off fence posts holding the gate right before the vet comes in the crowding corral.  yes it was a little rotten.

;D
 

OH Breeder

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Feb 14, 2007
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Ada, Ohio
DL,
My experience with neurological disturbances in humans is much like you described. The lack of movement or the lack there of coordination leads me to believe an injury to the spine or severe swellling in spine, brain and or the meninges ( the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) irritation and or compression from swelling can lead to some disturbing results.
Just my two little tidbits..... :-\
 

SKF

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Apr 24, 2007
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Thank you for all the ideas we will be looking it all the possibilities!! He is feeling better no longer running a fever and has perked up but her is still having problems with his back end. He wanted to run today but his back end just does not work with the front. His front end is good. I guess time will tell.
 

shortyisqueen

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Alberta, Canada
Not sure if this matches all the symptoms, but sounds something like Listeriosis  which is  a disease of the central nervous system caused by bacteria. It is characterized by restlessness, loss of appetite, fever and nervous system disorders. Cattle with Listeriosis have uncoordinated movements, lean against objects and can have progressive paralysis. Yuck! I do hope it is not this, because the chances of them fully recovering are not really that good.

If  you do find out what your bull  has, keep us posted. Best of luck with him.
 
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