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Author Topic: sick ewe - vet at a loss  (Read 4809 times)

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
sick ewe - vet at a loss
« on: December 23, 2014, 06:14:57 pm »
One of my ewes was checked by the vet this morning because been 'not quite right' for a while (looking thin and hungry despite up to date worm/fluke treatment, otherwise very lively and eating like a horse). Vet couldn't find anything wrong, and left with a blood sample to check.
3 hours later I found her barely moving at the bottom of the field with a very badly bloated belly and laboured breathing.Took her straight back to the surgery... vet at a total loss as to why the bloat should build up so quickly and so suddenly (rumen appeared to be working properly when she was checked this morning, everything else was found to be normal too).
Bloat was relieved with a needle as stomach tubing didn't help, she got painkillers and ABs as well.Vet suggested I leave her there overnight in case bloat builds up again so that they can do something about it. Agreed to leave her there, though not too sure it's the right thing.
Sure enough vet just called to say that while she is feeling more comfortable after all the drugs and bloat release the bloat is already building up again... Still at a total loss about why this is happening.

Any ideas anyone?
I dread she will not make it til the morning...
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

clydesdaleclopper

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 06:46:02 pm »
According to Pat Coleby bloat can be cause by a severe deficiency of potassium and magnesium which can be helped by drenching with cider vinegar, honey and dolomite
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2014, 07:04:25 pm »
Thanks CC. Have just been reading up on many things in the last hour, including Pat Coleby. I do like her advice and always worth a try when nothing else works... In my panic I took her straight back to the vets and they have kept her in and they will not be feeding cider vinegar tonight... I also know about the bicarb, oil and yoghurt mixture that has helped many other here, but as she was in such a bad way I didn't think I had time to try that first, but maybe I should have...  :gloomy:
Have also been reading about emaciating sheep diseases here and elsewhere, and I' having the awful feeling it might be Johne's...
The picture fits rather well... slow emaciation while remaining bright and eating well, poor fleece (definitely in her case) and puffy cheeks (she has had that on occasion, coming and going, hence the fluke treatment which didn't help).
Vet mentioned this as a possiblity though said testing for it is very inconclusive. However I seem to be reading that a test is available. Anybody here has tested their sheep for Johne's?
 :gloomy:
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 07:44:25 pm »
It would be testing the faeces rather than blood, and I think totally conclusive is only post mortem. I guess if she is not better soon it would be kinder to have her pts at the vets and get a PM done. The vet can open her up quickly, if you don't have a testing lab nearby, but s/he needs to know what to look for. The vet costs of having an animal at the surgery can build up very quickly, and it may not be viable for a Soay ewe that from what you say has been ill for a while and probably is unlikely to be breeding again...

Also if she is on her own at the vets she will certainly not get much better....

If this girl has Johne's you would need to get your whole flock tested and read up on future management quickly... not a nice one to have.

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2014, 08:35:07 pm »
I screen my flock for OJD (ovine Johnes Disease) plus other iceberg diseases, on an annual basis

The OJD test is a blood test which has good specificity (ie not many false positives) but very low sensitivity – especially for the paucibacillary form.
If you want to test it would make sense to blood test thin culls as well as take a pooled faecal sample for culture and PCR testing to check for freedom from the disease.
.
 One of the challenges is that 30% of cases are ‘paucibacillary’ which means they shed low numbers of MAP organism and have lower antibody response.One of the best ways to demonstrate freedom from OJD would be to have fallen stock regularly examined by post mortem.

 On average there have been 40 OJD cases a year sent to the AHVLA though it was found in 6% of ewes in a fallen stock pilot project that looked at 106 ewe carcasses

farmvet

  • Joined Feb 2014
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2014, 12:03:17 am »
My first thoughts would be peritonitis/ chronic pneumonia. The chronic infection causes vague ymptoms. Adhesions or enlarged lymphnodes can then cause bloat to suddenly develop. Blood results can help in diagnosis as can peritoneal tap and ultrasound. Some have so much going on inside yu wonder how they just looked slightly ill. Others do fine by controlling the bloat eg indwelling canula while penicillin gets to work. Its probably this type of thing your vets checking for first.
  Gut tumors are also not uncommon in sheep and cause similar signs. You may see these on ultrasound or a quick exploratory laporatomy would let you have a good look round & get an accurate diagnosis & prognosis. This is often the cheapest option.

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2014, 03:03:14 pm »
She is still alive, looking better, and back in my care. Bloat has subsided and has not come back for the last 12 hours so maybe there is hope she will recover with TLC, honey & cider vinegar. Have got spare shots of painkillers and ABs in case she deteriorates again over Xmas. Managed to talk the vet into giving her a vitamin shot as well, which strangely took some persuasion. Still waiting for the blood results, doubt they will come in today after all. In any case their were only going to show very basic readings, e.g. liver function etc, but not even show up any deficiencies if there was anything. Is it unfair to think this is pretty poor service?

Thanks all who posted useful advice. I have to do some more research on the testing. My vet insists that blood tests for Johne's do not work in sheep, according to her the only reliable diagnosis is a PM. She wasn't really familiar with the feacal culture either. Looks like I have to find a new vet if I want to find out what's going on!  ??? Or maybe it's not Johne's after all and I just got paranoid from googling too much - can easily happen...
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2014, 04:48:01 pm »
It may not appear to be a very helpful comment but one of the many snippets of advice given to me by the previous owner of this farm was that you will probably see one of most sheep problems at some time in your farming career, but it's worth starting to get worried if you get a similar problem with more than one at around the same time.


farmvet

  • Joined Feb 2014
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2014, 10:52:03 pm »
Sampling an individual sick sheep for trace element deficencies is rarely helpful. Some of the levels can be altered quite quickly by illness eg selenium by even a few hours without eating, copper by inflamation. Generally trace element deficiences affect most of the group so testing eg 6 healthy sheep is most meaningful. Also none of the labs are advising trace element tests till after new year due to delays in post or at lab giving spurious results.  Calcium & magnesium around lambing are obviously useful in individuals.
Johnes faecal culture is time consuming ( 6 weeks) and expensive ( around £55+vat). johnes pcr is around £38 and usually takes a week. This looks for bacterial dna so is reliable and the bacteria dont need to be viable & grow on the culture medium. Johnes blood test is around £5. If its positive plus clinical signs match it can be helpful but a lot of animals fight the disease by cell mediated local immunity rather than antibodies which can be measured in the blood.
I wouldnt be too quick to condemn your vet & jump ship. One sick sheep can look remarkably like another!

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2014, 09:33:53 am »
Thank you all for your helpful and enlightening posts.
I had another conversation with the vet armed with the above info insisting she find out more about testing. She did eventually speak to their lab guy and admitted she was wrong and the blood & faecal test described above is a pretty good indicator. 
Both tests would be about £25 though she would have to come out again to take a fresh blood sample as we missed the boat for that first time around (sigh...) Will look to getting this done next week, so I know what's what.

In the meantime good old Dill is doing much better, pretty much back to her old self, out grazing with the others and pestering me for food as soon as I appear. She still looks awfully thin and I'm not too hopeful she will get back to being 'normal' but for now she's enjoying life again and I'm supporting her with home remedies as best as I can as there isn't much else I can do for her anyway. I'll think about the longer term when I know more.
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

kelly58

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Highlands, Scotland
  • Home is were my animals are.
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2014, 10:30:34 am »
 :hug: hang on in there Ladyk

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2014, 12:53:47 pm »
I hope she gets better, you're doing a fab job :)
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: sick ewe - vet at a loss
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2014, 01:09:35 pm »
According to Pat Coleby bloat can be cause by a severe deficiency of potassium and magnesium which can be helped by drenching with cider vinegar, honey and dolomite

Bloat may follow severe Magnesium deficiency, often accompanied by stiffness and later a bad smell if treated with honey...... next time I get a staggers I will get the cider out! Cheers Pat!! 

(sorry couldn't resist)

 

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