THE MARA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
During the month of August, 2010, the Central Rift veterinary unit attended to an elephant in Olare Orok wildlife conservancy with severe injuries on the ears and head region. Disease surveillance was conducted on the migratory wildebeests along the Mara River in which the dead wildebeests were opened up for post-mortem examination and examined for the presence of hydatid cysts and lymph node tissue samples collected for bovine tuberculosis research.
Other cases attended to included treatment of 3 snared common zebras and 2 waterbucks in Nderit farm and Sanctuary farm in Naivasha. Detailed reports of these cases are highlighted below.
Treatment of an elephant with severe injuries on the head and ear-pinnae in Olare Orok Wildlife conservancy.
An adult female elephant with severe traumatic injuries was sighted within the Olare Orok Wildlife conservancy near JK tourist camp; it was weak, lonely and unable to keep pace with the rest of her family. The wound was already infected and had a lot of pus oozing from it. The elephant was sighted by the conservancy rangers and the patrol team who immediately informed the Mara veterinarian who responded on time to treat it.
Chemical immobilization, examination and treatment
After searching for about 2 hours, the elephant was located in a fairly open area where it was darted from a vehicle using 16mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 1000 i.u hyaluronidase. Immediately after darting it took off and ran towards a densely vegetated riverine area. It was followed closely by the vehicle until the drug took effect after about 10 minutes and the elephant became recumbent. Unfortunately it was lying on the side of the wounded ear making it difficult to access the wound for treatment.
It had an extensive wound on the left ear which was greatly swollen, painful with some pus exudation. The wound was suspected to have been caused by an arrow shot that pierced through the left ear and hit the head. The wound was then cleaned vigorously using clean water followed by 10% hydrogen peroxide to help remove mud and loose tissue debris. A tincture of iodine was then applied on to the wound and further sprayed by oxytetracycline spray. Further treatment using high doses of long-acting oxytetracycline antibiotics was provided.
Revival of anaesthesia and prognosis
After treatment the elephant was revived from anaesthesia using 36mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear-vein and it rose up after about 2 minutes. It had good prognosis after treatment and the conservancy rangers were to monitor its progress and report to the veterinarian just in case it required repeat treatment.
Echinococcosis and Bovine tuberculosis survey on wildebeests in Mara River
Echinococcosis is a zoonotic disease caused by Echinococcus species of tapeworms. Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a frequent and economically important zoonosis with a specific impact on disadvantaged pastoralist communities. It has been recognized as one of the neglected zoonotic disease even in highly endemic regions.
In the light of a different species of (Echinococcus felidis) recently having been characterized from lions, there is hardly any reliable information on the identity of Echinococcus in any species of wild carnivores and herbivores in Africa. Therefore, all isolates obtained from wildlife of any country are of high scientific value. As standardized sampling surveys are difficult and pretty costly and can only be done with small sample sizes, the concentration will be on opportunistic sampling in order to obtain a basic knowledge on the host range of different Echinococcus taxa.
Samples will be obtained from natural events such as wildebeest migration, culling schemes by the wildlife authorities, faecal samples of carnivores in wildlife reserves, cropping of animals in commercial game farms or tourist wildlife enclosures. Special emphasis will be on infection of humans and livestock in the vicinity of wildlife conservation areas such as Maasai Mara ecosystem, in order to estimate the extent of inter linkage between domestic and wildlife-adapted taxa of Echinococcus.
Specific objectives for echinococcosis study are:
(1) To establish the distribution and prevalence of various Echinococcus taxa in different geographical / environmental circumstances and in different host animals.
(2) To establish the distribution and prevalence of Echinococcus in wildlife, and the interaction of domestic and wildlife transmission cycles.
(3) To study social and economic impact of different Echinococcus taxa in different countries or communities.
(4) To study the clinical presentation and disease manifestation of different Echinococcus taxa in humans.
Echinococcosis and Bovine tuberculosis survey in Mara wildebeests (August, 2010)
Maasai Mara ecosystem with its huge wildlife population is one of the most ideal sites to study the interaction of the potentially existing wildlife cycle of Echinococcus felidis and the domestic cycle of Echinococcus granulosus. The world famous wildebeest migration offers a golden opportunity to do post-mortem examination on dead animals along the Mara River for the existence of hydatid disease. A survey by scientists from African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) in collaboration with KWS scientists/veterinarian in Mara was carried out along the Mara River from 16th to 31st August, 2010.
During this survey 100 dead wildebeests were opened up and examined for the presence of hydatid cysts (Echinococcus cysts). Cystic lesions partly calcified either in lungs or liver were found in 10/100 (10%). The material however needs to be examined further with PCR to identify it as true hydatid disease. This analysis will be done with another collaborating group at KEMRI.
During the post-mortem other parasitic infections could be found: 19% of the animals showed an infection with Cysticercus bovis cystceri (C. bovis) mainly in the heart muscle and diaphragm. 7% of the animals were infected with Taenia hydatigena cysticeri found in the omentum or attached to the liver. Liver flukes (Fasciola gigantica) were found in 3% of the animals. The parasites described however need to be examined further to establish the correct species. This will be either done at JKUAT or University of Nairobi (UoN). These findings might be the first of its kind in wildebeests and might be worth a short publication.
Lymph node tissue samples from the retropharyngeal, mediastinum and mesenteric lymph nodes were collected from 60 wildebeests during the post-mortem. These were collected in plastic tubes and frozen in a deep freezer; the lymph nodes will be processed for Mycobacteria bovis culture and identification.
Feacal samples from lions and hyenas would be of great importance to demonstrate the existence of the parasite and its genetic specification and the potential infection pressure towards intermediate hosts. Collection of some feacal samples from lions and hyenas will be done in the course of September, 2010.
Treatment and release of spotted hyena that was trapped from Lanet area of Nakuru
This was a 1 year old hyena that broke into a livestock boma in Lanet area at night from where it was attacked by the villagers; it sustained an injury on the muzzle and had some haemorrhages from the muzzle. The wound was well treated by topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs then later in the evening it was released in LakeNakuruNational park.
Treatment and desnaring of common zebras and waterbucks in Naivasha area
During the month of August, the Central Rift veterinary unit managed to rescue 3 common zebras and 2 waterbucks which were entangled by snares in Nderit farm and Sanctuary farm in Naivasha. These animals were darted from a vehicle and wire snares cut off using a wire cutter and resulting wounds cleaned and treated using 10% hydrogen peroxide followed by application of a tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray. After treatment and removal of the snare each animal was revived from anaesthesia and released back to the wild. They all had good prognosis and better chances of recovery after treatment.
The Mara veterinary unit responded to all the reported veterinary cases within Maasai Mara ecosystem and Naivasha area. The unit still requires equipment like gas refrigerator and a solar panel for processing and storage of biological samples for wildlife diseases research and diagnosis. Kenya Wildlife Service acknowledges the support of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) towards provision of prompt veterinary services to wildlife in Maasai Mara ecosystem, Central Rift region and Ruma National park.
Reported by; Dr. Domnic Mijele
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust P.O. Box 15555 Nairobi Kenya