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Anonymous

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Vicki, we had a 3 year old bull that apparently had a seizure this afternoon. We took him to our vet immediately afterwards, but I was wondering if you have any experience with this happening in cattle.

This bull is going to the sale in the morning, but my curiousity makes me want more feedback.

The bull has been in a clean drylot on good quality 3rd crop alfalfa/grass hay for about a month, with a bloat block. No exposure to any chemicals or toxins that we know of before that. He was last wormed about 6 months ago. We are located in Utah. He is in with two other 18 month old bulls that are healthy and normal acting.

He's been eating and drinking normally, although yesterday I thought he had begun to lose a bit of weight. He has a magnet in him. No other health history except one instance of bloat last year, and that was my fault.

Today he seemed to have tonic clonic movement, went down, got up, then down and out for a few seconds. A bit dazed when he got up again, but steady on his feet. I got home about 15 minutes after the seizure (my husband witnessed it) and I could still see mild twitching of the muscles, especially over his front and back legs, although he was standing and alert. Immediately after the seizure, he did almost compulsively drink about 35-40 gallons of water. He had not been out of water at any time, so was not thirsty from lack of water.

We loaded him up and took him to the vet. He was hyperexcitable, which is not normal for him. No muscle twitching or seizure activity to be observed by the vet, of course. Two vets put their heads together, decided injectable B vitamins couldn't hurt, decided against dexamethasone, and gently suggested we consider taking him to the sale or slaughtering him. They said seizure activity is rare in cattle, but something could be going on in his brain, or he could have liver or kidney failure. I am assuming liver or kidney failure would cause an electrolyte imbalance??

The vet said a few of the other possible causes of seizure would have caused him to go down and not get back up again. He said since this bull got back up, it might be an isolated instance, but if he has organ failure it will probably happen again.

No blood was drawn or other tests done. We just all kind of decided that if he's still alive in the morning and with cattle prices as high as they are, he'll go to the sale.

I would appreciate any ideas or feedback you might have for us.
 
A

Anonymous

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I've seen seizures in cattle from a few different things. Lead poisoning, rabies, salt poisoning, polioencephalomalacia, tumours, electrolyte imbalance. You didn't mention if on their exam they noted any residual neuro deficits or abnormalities. If he had nystagmus, a central lesion is definite. (polio, rabies, tumour, poisonings, not 'lytes) Not all of these things will cause seizures which will initially drop them permanently. If Listeriosis causes the seizure, they're down and that's it in my experience, so that's out. Polio is a deficiency of thiamine, but excess of other nutrients or longterm use of a thiamin analog can cause. Salt poisoning would have been made worse by the drinking, so that's unlikely. Rabies--you have to judge the risk. Here in Ontario, it's always on the list. Lead poisoning--head pressing and blindness. Liver/kidney dz can really only be determined by bloodwork or PM findings--remember lepto can trash kidneys and flukes can nail that liver. (If I remember, you're at high altitude in "high desert" kind of conditions, so flukes are unlikely but I've got to mention them. We don't have them in my area but...)

I'm heading to Disneyworld with my kids today for a family vacation, so I won't be able to answer again for a while--sorry! I'll check in again when I get back even though it'll be too late to help you...

V
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
No nystagmus, Vicki.

Rabies is present in our area, but rare.

No head pressing and vision was good.

Yes, we are at high altitude in a high desert area. Flukes were something my husband brought up, but not with the vets. Flukes are present in our area. The vector (tiny snails) is present in all of our irrigated pastures. We normally treat for flukes each winter, but may have missed doing so last winter as my husband had shoulder surgery and we were also gone for a couple of months caring for his terminally ill dad. Will have to check our records.

We have found over the years that at slaughter some of our animals do have flukes in their livers and some don't. All are pastured together. I sometimes have wondered if there is a resistance in some of our cattle and little in others. Slaughter is always in late fall, early winter, and we don't treat those we are going to slaughter so as to avoid residue.

Thank you so much for your feedback. You covered much of the territory our vets did, and a little more. It helped to see it all written down, as I retain the written word better than verbal input.

The bull went to the sale and brought a good price, which is a first for us. Interesting that he was only bringing about 3 cents a pound less than the black hided bulls. Ours was a silver Murray Grey. Other non black bulls were bringing far less. To be honest, his sale price wasn't that far below what we could have gotten for him as a breeding bull, so we don't feel so bad.

I hope you and your children had a great time at Disney World! What a nice change in weather the trip must have brought you!

> I've seen seizures in cattle from
> a few different things. Lead
> poisoning, rabies, salt poisoning,
> polioencephalomalacia, tumours,
> electrolyte imbalance. You didn't
> mention if on their exam they
> noted any residual neuro deficits
> or abnormalities. If he had
> nystagmus, a central lesion is
> definite. (polio, rabies, tumour,
> poisonings, not 'lytes) Not all of
> these things will cause seizures
> which will initially drop them
> permanently. If Listeriosis causes
> the seizure, they're down and
> that's it in my experience, so
> that's out. Polio is a deficiency
> of thiamine, but excess of other
> nutrients or longterm use of a
> thiamin analog can cause. Salt
> poisoning would have been made
> worse by the drinking, so that's
> unlikely. Rabies--you have to
> judge the risk. Here in Ontario,
> it's always on the list. Lead
> poisoning--head pressing and
> blindness. Liver/kidney dz can
> really only be determined by
> bloodwork or PM findings--remember
> lepto can trash kidneys and flukes
> can nail that liver. (If I
> remember, you're at high altitude
> in "high desert" kind of
> conditions, so flukes are unlikely
> but I've got to mention them. We
> don't have them in my area but...)

> I'm heading to Disneyworld with my
> kids today for a family vacation,
> so I won't be able to answer again
> for a while--sorry! I'll check in
> again when I get back even though
> it'll be too late to help you...

> V
 

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