A study of naturally occurring cases of ovine foot abscess in New Zealand

A study of naturally occurring cases of ovine foot abscess in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


A study was made of various aspects of 53 naturally occurring cases of foot abscess in sheep in New Zealand. Radiographic techniques were used to follow the progress of the lesion and from this it was concluded that foot abscess could be defined as an infection of the distal interphalangeal joint. The term “foot abscess” was considered preferable to the term “infective bulbar necrosis”. The attack rate of foot abscess was reported to be higher for rams than for ewes and the condition was less prevalent during summer. Once infection was established in the distal interphalangeal joint a relatively uniform and thus predictable series of events took place that inevitably resulted in some permanent damage and deformity to the digit. If rupture of the axial collateral ligaments occurred, the joint became unstable and the degree of permanent deformity was greater. Treatment with antibiotics did not appear to markedly affect the progress of the lesion or the outcome, once infection had become established in the joint. Although the prognosis for complete recovery was poor, in most cases the foot healed sufficiently after a period of about two months to allow the animal to walk normally.

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