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Use of diazepam-ketamine in prevention of capture myopathy in the ostrich (struthio camelus): a case report

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Sokoto Journal of Veterinary Sciences, Volume 16 (Number 1). March, 2018
86
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Sokoto Journal of Veterinary Sciences
(P-ISSN 1595-093X: E-ISSN 2315-6201)
http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sokjvs.v16i1.12
Ogunsola & Adetunji /Sokoto Journal of Veterinary Sciences, 16(1): 86 - 89.
Use of diazepam and ketamine anaesthesia in prevention of
capture myopathy in the ostrich (Struthio camelus)
J Ogunsola1* & V Adetunji2
1. Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
2. Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
*Correspondence: Tel.: +2347031604111; E-mail: ogunsolajo@yahoo.com
Copyright: © 2018
Ogunsola & Adetunji.
This is an open-access
article published under
the terms of the
Creative Commons
Attribution License
which permits
unrestricted use,
distribution, and
reproduction in any
medium, provided the
original author and
source are credited.
Publication History:
Received: 20-04- 2017
Accepted: 12-10-2017
Abstract
Capture or exertion myopathy (CM) is an attendant complication of manual restraint in
ratites, asides physical injuries that handlers may suffer. CM arises from a combination
of stress and anaerobic glycolysis during handling. This work was carried out to restrain
and immobilize two ostriches (Struthio camelus) in a bid to facilitate their clinical
examination and transportation from one location to another, without subjecting the
birds to capture myopathy that arises from the stress and exertion associated with
physical restraint and capture. Two ostriches, male and female, weighing 120kg and
105kg respectively, were requested to be immobilized for relocation over a distance of
15 kilometres within Ibadan metropolis of Oyo State, Nigeria. The birds were fasted for
16 hours overnight and fed little amounts of feed mixed with diazepam at 3mg/kg.
Mild sedation was achieved with diazepam after one hour. Samples for haematology
and coprology were obtained. Ketamine at 10mg/kg was then administered
intramuscularly. The birds were successfully transported. Complete recovery was 3
hours post administration of ketamine. We conclude that the diazepam and ketamine
combination is generally safe to use for restraint and transportation of ratites and at
the same time prevent the risk of capture myopathy. We suggest that the current dose
of diazepam might need to be increased if the oral route is to be employed in order to
shorten the onset of sedation and increase the depth of sedation.
Keywords: Capture myopathy, Chemical restraint, Haematology, Nigeria, Ostrich
Introduction
In the recent past, ostrich farming has increased
globally and has become a recent worldwide
economic activity (Carrer & Kornfeld, 1999). The
ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest bird in the
world with the adult measuring as much as 2.75
meters in height and weighing up to 150 kilograms
(Huchzermeyer, 1998). They belong to the ratite
family of birds that comprises running birds. Their
extreme visual acuity and open habitat makes them
difficult to approach undetected. Also, as a result of
the size, speed and powerful kicking ability of the
adult birds, chemical immobilization and general
anaesthesia are usually made use of in these animals
to provide veterinary care (Al-Sobayil & Omer,
2011).
They are highly susceptible to stress caused by
physical methods of restraint (Cornick-Seahorn,
1996). Knowledge about ratite anaesthesia refers
mostly to non-captive or zoo animals, in contrast to
little information available from ostriches reared in
commercial production systems (Cornick-Seahorn,
1996). In commercial rearing, chemical restraints
and interventions are needed in many procedures
such as sample collection and picking of feathers
Sokoto Journal of Veterinary Sciences, Volume 16 (Number 1). March, 2018
87
(Ostrowski & Ancrenaz 1995) and in some minor
surgical procedures such as suturing of lacerations
and placement of oesophageal probe and intubation
(Cornick & Jensen, 1992). Anaesthesia in ratites has
been performed both intramuscularly (IM) and
intravenously (IV), as well as using inhalation
anaesthesia (Cornick-Seahorn, 1996). However,
ratite anaesthetic events are often dangerous
because these birds use their powerful legs and
clawed feet as a defence, and physical restraint can
result in self-trauma or injury to handlers.
Capture myopathy (CM), or exertional myopathy
(Williams, 1996), is among the important
complications of capture and handling in many
species of wildlife and other mammals (Chalmers &
Barrett, 1982). Pursuit and capture of ostriches
elicits stress, struggling, and exertion, which in turn,
create a patho-physiologic cascade with
hyperthermia, anaerobic glycolysis, metabolic
acidosis, reduced tissue perfusion, and hypoxia
(Spraker, 1993). This cascade results in necrosis of
cardiomyocytes and rhabdomyocytes. Clinical signs
of ataxia, weakness, and paralysis could result from
reduced muscle function. Williams (1996) reports
that evidence of renal failure, circulatory collapse,
and even death can occur in severe cases. However,
some animals do appear to recover, and then
present with sudden death days or weeks later
following another exertive event (Spraker, 1993).
There are few published reports of successful
treatment of CM in wild birds (Rogers et al., 2004;
Smith et al., 2005; Businga et al., 2007), and the
focus remains on prevention (Williams, 1996). An
extensive work on various agents that could produce
anaesthesia and chemical restraint in ratites has
been reported (Speer, 2006).
This work was carried out in order to screen the
ostriches for blood and faecal parasites, determine
their complete blood counts and facilitate their
transportation from one location to another without
subjecting the birds to capture myopathy that arises
from the stress and exertion associated with solely
physical restraint and capture.
Materials and Methods
Two ostriches, male and female, weighing 120 and
105 kilograms respectively, were requested to be
immobilized for relocation over a distance of about
15 kilometers in Oyo State, Nigeria. The ratites were
fasted for about 16 hours. Diazepam [Valium 10mg
tablets; SwissPharma, Nigeria] was administered
orally through reduced amounts of thoroughly mixed
feed and drug at the rate of 3mg/kg body weight.
The fast and reduced amount of feed allowed the
ostriches to consume the drug in the feed quickly
and completely. After one hour, with slight manual
restraint, the birds were examined. Blood was
obtained from the cutaneous ulnar vein into EDTA-
containing sample bottles for haematology. Faecal
samples were obtained, for coprology, from the
cloaca/terminal rectum and put into Bijou bottles
before transportation. Ketamine [Ketamine
hydrochloride 50mg/ml; Rotex Medica, Germany]
was administered at 10mg/kg body weight
intramuscularly. Birds were carried into a semi-open
truck with padded flooring and transported within
Ibadan metropolis over a distance of about 15
kilometres. After transportation, signs of recovery
were observed and recorded.
Results
Physical response to anaesthetic protocol
The onset of diazepam sedation at 3mg/kg was
about 63 minutes. A mild amount of physical
restraint was needed to examine the birds, obtain
blood and faecal samples as well as intramuscular
administration of ketamine. Following ketamine
administration, the birds only showed signs of mild
ataxia and wobbling before maximum muscle
relaxation was achieved.
Physical examination
Both birds were in apparent good body condition,
alert and active. However, the ocular mucous
membrane of the male was moderately pale
(suggestive of anaemia). The cloaca of the male was
devoid of sufficient amount of faeces and that
precluded faecal examination.
Clinico-pathologic findings
The haematologic findings are presented in Table 1.
Notably, the erythrocyte and leukocyte indices of
the male revealed a moderate anaemia (PCV = 23%),
leucopenia (TWCC = 2,600/uL) as well as a mild
hypoproteinaemia.
Parasitologic findings
Faecal sample, obtained from the female, was
reported to have no parasite.
Recovery findings
On reaching the target destination and following off-
loading the ostriches from the truck, the birds were
still under anaesthesia for a period of 57 minutes.
Cumulatively, time from intramuscular injection of
Sokoto Journal of Veterinary Sciences, Volume 16 (Number 1). March, 2018
88
Sex
PCV
%
RBC
x106/ul
Hb
g/dl
MCV
fl
MCHC
pg
PLT
X106/ul
TWCC
/ul
H
%
L
%
M
%
E
%
TP
g/dl
1.
2.
RV*
F
M
40
23
40-
57
10.24
6.42
13.2
7.7
39
35
33
33
12
08
5400
2600
10-24b
24
25
10-
17
76
74
2-8
0
1
0-
0.7
0
0
6.2
3.4
0-
0.4
ketamine to when initial signs of recovery were
noticed was approximately 2 hours. Signs of
recovery from anaesthesia included flapping of
wings and initial wobbling during attempts to stand.
This lasted a couple of minutes. Complete recovery
following ketamine administration was observed in
about 2 hours 50 minutes when the ostriches
regained full consciousness and were able to move
about freely. In our opinion, recovery appeared
smooth and non-violent.
Discussion
Restraint is imperative in the handling, examination,
immobilization and transportation of ostriches.
Manual restraint is particularly associated with
exertional/capture myopathy (CM) to the birds as
well as varying degrees of physical injuries to
unsuspecting handlers. CM arises from a
combination of stress and anaerobic glycolysis
during handling. Treatment is not effective and
emphasis is placed on preventing its occurrence and
thus the need for chemical restraint.
With good facilities, such as a dart gun, delivering
chemical agents is simple, precise and easy.
However, in the absence of such facilities,
administering chemical restraint may present a
daunting task. In this case, we opted for sedation
using the oral route before anaesthesia. To achieve
this, the birds were fasted for about 16 hours. This
action was important for three reasons. First, it was
going to help empty/rest the gastrointestinal tract.
Second, it would avoid aspiration pneumonia that
may result from emesis which is a side effect of a
few sedatives such as xylazine. Finally, we expect
that fasting for such duration of time would
stimulate the appetite and rate of consumption of a
sedative-laden feed when presented to the birds in
reduced amounts.
The ease of oral administration of diazepam makes
this technique a promising one. However, the
prolonged onset of action and mild depth of
sedation associated with the dose we used, in our
opinion, is not satisfactory. Although a delay in the
onset of action is expected when a drug is delivered
enterally, this may be compensated for with an
increase in the dosage administered. It is plausible
that an increase in dose administered orally will not
only shorten the onset of action, but also increase
the depth of sedation. It is noteworthy to mention
that reduced onset of action and an increased depth
of sedation can also be achieved if the diazepam is
delivered IM using a pole syringe or a blow pipe.
However, care must be taken to avoid trauma to the
bones or coelomic organs if a blow pipe is used. The
increased depth of sedation may preclude the need
for an anaesthetic (ketamine in this case) in a
number of situations. These situations will include
non/less-invasive procedures such as phlebotomy,
obtaining a fine needle aspirate as well as
interventions that are of sufficiently short duration
such as suturing of lacerations and relocation from
one enclosure to another.
In this case, we assert that the diazepam and
ketamine combination is generally safe. This is
evidenced by the smooth, non-violent recovery of
the birds and the absence of any obvious negative
side-effects. We conclude that oral administration of
diazepam, and accompanied by intramuscular
administration of ketamine provides restraint in
ratites while also avoiding the risk of capture
myopathy.
References
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Sokoto Journal of Veterinary Sciences, Volume 16 (Number 1). March, 2018
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... Appropriate combination and use of chemical agents for immobilization is a requirement for safe restraint and capture of any wild animal species in a free range or in captive state (Nielsen, 1999). Ketamine has been used successfully in all reptilian orders, due to its high safety margin when compared to other anaesthetics agents, as well as the possible diverse routes of administration in both wild and domestic animals species (Dupras et al., 2001;Alves-Junior et al., 2012;Adejumobi & Olukole, 2016;Ogunsola & Adetunji, 2018). Zoo and wildlife veterinarians, as well as zoo and wildlife workers, are exposed to lots of dangers when wild animals are to be restrained. ...
... This may consequently create public safety issues like fatal attacks on humans and other animals and threats to the animal's own wellbeing (Bill, 2010). A safe and effective anaesthetic protocol is therefore, essential for the various medical procedures and interventions both on the field and in the wild, or in zoo hospitals (Ogunsola & Adetunji, 2018). The objective of this study, therefore was to evaluate the anaesthetic effects of concurrent administration of varied doses of ketamine and varied doses of diazepam in apparently healthy tortoises, by determining the depth of anaesthesia and time required for full recovery in tortoises administered with different cocktails of the anaesthetic agents. ...
Article
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Sixteen red-necked ostriches (Struthio camelus camelus) were darted under field conditions to immobilise them. Combinations of etorphine hydrochloride with either medetomidine or ketamine were used on 13 birds; xylazine hydrochloride and metomidate alone were used, respectively, on one and two birds. The times to recumbency and recovery were recorded and compared. The principal complications encountered during the anaesthetic procedure were myopathy due to over exertion and respiratory collapse. Etorphine combined with medetomidine led to a sedated state of good quality but short duration, which allowed minor procedures to be carried out.
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A 7-yr-old, adult, female greater rhea (Rhea americana) from the National Zoological Park presented with a 24-hr history of severe left leg lameness that progressed to an inability to stand. Blood work revealed creatine phosphokinase (CPK) above 50,000 U/L and elevated lactate dehydrogenase. The bird's condition deteriorated over the next week. The bird's CPK increased to over 208,400 U/L. Aggressive intravenous fluids and physical therapy along with oral anxiolytic and muscle-relaxant drugs were instituted. After 2 wk of aggressive therapy, initial signs of improvement were noted. By day 28, the bird was able to walk unassisted with no noticeable lameness. This is one of the few reported cases of successful treatment of suspected ratite exertional myopathy. It is believed that success in this case can be attributed to persistent, aggressive physical therapy, muscle relaxants, and anxiolytics aimed to counteract the hyperexcitable nature of these birds.
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Shorebirds held during banding activities can develop muscle cramps, especially when temperatures are high and birds are heavy. Such capture myopathy can be fatal or render birds vulnerable to predators. We rehabilitated Great Knots (Calidris tenuirostris), Red Knots (C. canutus), Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica), and Red-necked Stints (C. ruficollis) in northwestern Australia. We kept birds in slings (if cramped) or in a small cage (if able to walk) and gave them daily standing exercises. Recovery of severely cramped birds took up to 14 d, which may reflect a critical period of tissue regeneration. Of 15 knots (8 Red and 7 Great) taken into captivity, 12 were rehabilitated and released. The resighting rate after the breeding season of the rehabilitated birds was the same as for other birds color-banded during our research, indicating that the rehabilitation was successful. We conclude that rehabilitating cramped shorebirds is possible though time-consuming. A sex bias in susceptibility to capture myopathy is suggested by seven of the eight Red Knots treated being male; the sex ratio in the local population was 1:1.
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We evaluated and characterized several anesthetic induction protocols used to facilitate intubation and anesthetic maintenance with isoflurane in 7 adult ostriches and 1 juvenile ostrich. Induction protocols included IV administration of zolazepam/tiletamine, IV administration of diazepam/ketamine with and without xylazine, IV administration of xylazine/ketamine, IM administration of carfentanil or xylazine/carfentanil, and mask induction with isoflurane. General anesthesia was maintained with isoflurane in 100% oxygen for various procedures, including proventriculotomy (6 birds), tibial (1 bird) or mandibular (1 bird) fracture repair, and drainage of an iatrogenic hematoma (1 bird). Heart rate and respiratory rate varied greatly among birds. The arterial blood pressure values recorded from 6 of the birds during maintenance of general anesthesia were higher than values recorded for most mammalian species, but were comparable to values reported for awake chickens and turkeys.
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Two adult and 1 juvenile free-flying greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) were diagnosed with capture myopathy after alpha-chloralose baiting and physical capture during a banding and feeding ecologic study. Blood samples were collected for serum biochemical analysis at the time of capture for the 2 adults, and at 24 hours postcapture, at various intervals during treatment, and at the time of release for all 3 birds. Concentrations of creatine kinase, aspartate transaminase, and lactate dehydrogenase were high within 1 hour of capture and peaked approximately 3 days after capture. By days 10-17 after capture, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase concentrations both decreased to within the reference range measured for cranes at capture, but aspartate transaminase concentrations remained 2-5 times higher than the measured reference range. Treatment consisted of corticosteroids, selenium/vitamin E, parenteral fluids, and gavage feedings. Physical therapy consisted of assisting the cranes to stand and walk 2-8 times a day, massaging leg muscles, and moving limbs manually through the range of motion. The adults were released when they were able to stand up independently and were pacing in the pen. The juvenile was released 12 hours after it was able to stand independently but was returned to the pen when it fell and could not rise. It was treated supportively for an additional 3 days and then successfully released. Both adult cranes were observed on their territories with their original mates after release and returned to their territories for the subsequent 8 years, raising chicks most years. After release, the juvenile was observed in a flock of cranes near its natal territory for the next 2 days.
The creation of ostriches in Brazil. Pirassununga: Brazil Ostrich Commercial
  • C C Carrer
  • M E Kornfeld
Carrer CC & Kornfeld ME (1999). The creation of ostriches in Brazil. Pirassununga: Brazil Ostrich Commercial pp25-48.
Anesthesiology of Ratites
  • J L Cornick-Seahorn
Cornick-Seahorn JL (1996). Anesthesiology of Ratites. In: Ratite Management and Surgery (TN Tully, SM Shane, editors) Malabar: Krieger Publishing Co. Florida, USA. Pp 79-94.
Diseases of Ostriches and Other Ratites, Agricultural Research Council, Ondersteport Veterinary Institute
  • F W Huchzermeyer
Huchzermeyer FW (1998) Diseases of Ostriches and Other Ratites, Agricultural Research Council, Ondersteport Veterinary Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. Pp 254-256.
Ratite Medicine and Surgery. Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference
  • B Speer
Speer B (2006). Ratite Medicine and Surgery. Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference; 20; Orlando, Florida. Pp 1593-1597.