Treatment of Stringhalt in cows
Patellar luxation/fixation is commonly known as stringhalt. This problem has been reported in almost every species of domestic animals – bovines, equines, camel, sheep, goat, dog, cat and may occur sporadically or as an outbreak. Stringhalt in cows is quite common but it is not a life-threatening malady. Nevertheless, the affliction is disabling, reduces the production performance and degrades the market price of the animal. Patellar desmotomy has been commonly practiced to relieve the animal of this protracted ailment but the procedure is not free from mishaps e.g., delayed recovery, sepsis and incomplete severing of the medial patellar ligament. Further, daily dressing, antibiotic injections and veterinarian’s visits incur considerable expenditure. A simple and lasting treatment of stringhalt in cows is given in this post.
Generally, stringhalt in cows are relieved of the ailment by patellar desmotomy. However, this procedure is not free from mishaps. The procedure involves invasive surgery and needs the services of an expert for the location of median patellar ligament in cattle due to its thick skin, Moreover, after the operation there are chances of sepsis which need to be taken care of by daily dressings and antibiotic injections and visits of a veterinarian, which does incur quite a cost and involves labour and time. It has been usually observed that after patellar desmotomy of one limb the other hind limb also develops this problem in a short time after the operation, which again needs the same procedure to be repeated. Hence, to avoid such complications the injection of iodine was chosen, which is cheap, safe and permanent. Vaughan (1960) recommended 5-10 ml of mild solution of iodine injection, which in our experience, lower doses (5 ml) are least effective and higher doses (10 ml) are injurious to the surrounding tissues.
The etiology of stringhalt in cows still eludes scientists. However, there are certain opinions/hypotheses laid down by research workers which involve varied factors, such as genetics, demographic, involvement of nervous system, nutritional- involving some minerals and poisoning due to certain weeds infected by some fungus. In our opinion there are imbalances of certain minerals such as calcium/phosphorus, copper/molybdenum/zinc and sulphate etc., at least in buffaloes. We have observed that cows/buffaloes either in late pregnancy or early lactation are commonly affected by this ailment. Moreover, in India which are known for mineral imbalances in forages, soil and water in which affected cows/buffaloes are mostly encountered. During late pregnancy and early lactation, these animals require more calcium and phosphorus for the developing fetus and milk secretion and are likely to suffer from shortage of these elements. There may be excessive exostosis of tibial tuberosity, which might hinder the normal slipping of the ligament during walking and resulting in stringhalt. To settle the cause of stringhalt in cows/buffaloes, well planned experimental studies under controlled conditions are warranted and effective control measures should be found for this malady.
A solution of tincture iodine (2.5%) is prepared and autoclaved. The animal is cast in lateral recumbency with the affected limb on the upper side. The animal is properly secured to avoid any untoward accident. The stifle joint of the affected limb is then flexed and a pit on inner side of patella is formed. The pit is located with the index finger and thumb, and into it a hypodermic needle of 14 gauge is inserted. A few drops of synovial fluid will be observed at the upper end of the needle. Then depending upon the approximate body weight of the cow (350-400 kg) 8 ml of the iodine solution is injected into the stifle joint. The ropes controlling the animal is slowly loosened and the beast took the standing position easily. No anaesthetic or sedative is used during the whole procedure.