Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stella the Cow

Stella, one of the cows we use in Clinical Diagnostics, slipped over in the department earlier today and couldn't get back up. They thought she had slipped so took her some food and water but her appetite was low and still wasn't able to stand. She had a calf just over a month ago.
One of the vets gave her 40% glucose and Ca intravenously but it was pretty obvious that she wouldn't be able to stand so they put her on a trolley and moved her back to her stable. She was in sternal recumbency with her right hind leg out stretched unable to move it.
Rumen fluid samples were taken which showed she had 0 ruminal protozoa; these help digest food in the rumen. Students in my class collected rumen fluid from a healthy cow using PVC piping and gave Stella a rumen fluid transplant - something I'd never seen or heard of before.
She was given lots of fresh grass, hay and concentrates as well as access to fresh water.

Prof. Mudron the head of Ruminants clinic came and did a neurological exam and she couldn't feel anything in the leg with no response to superficial (pin prick test) or deep (with forceps) pain sensation tests. He was really worried it was damage to the femoral nerve with complete paralysis and a poor prognosis. Videos were taken so he could check progress over the next few days.
An IV catheter was placed into her left ear for 10 litres of isotonic solution NaCl+ with glucose as well as Novasul (containing metamizole, a spasmolytic and analgesic/pain relief) and Menbutone (to aid digestion) injections. 
The way the vet showed us the IV catheter was so clever. They attach a retractable dog lead to the bottle of saline and clip the end to the cows halter, the IV line is taped to the lead so that when the cow moves the line moves with her and she cannot pull it out.
An hour later and after the hoist was removed, she remained standing so Mudron repeated the reflex tests and sensation had returned to the leg as she was responding to the pin prick test which showed the femoral nerve pathways to the brain were still intact.
She is bedded down on lots of straw and will be turned several times throughout the day and lifted with a sling to be milked to keep her comfortable and reduce the risk of mastitis.

Blood samples were taken to look for markers in the blood indicating muscle damage to try and get an idea of what was going on; she has low serum protein, high Leukocytes (white blood cells) and low PCV.

If she can't stand up by herself in the next few days prognosis is poor for muscular and neurological damage.

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