This report describes the activities of the Meru mobile veterinary unit in May 2014. The unit responded to reports of injuries in two elephants in Meru national park and Mwea national reserve. A human anthrax epidemic associated with consumption of hippopotamus meat investigated in Embu county is reported. Other cases attended are described in the report.
Case #1 Post mortem examination of a white rhino carcass:
Date: 14th May 2014
Species: White Rhino
Location: Meru National Park
The warden in charge of rhino at Meru national park reported a white rhino carcass identified as Silvan (Male, identity number 70W44) on 14th May 2014. Both horns were intact. This rhino had been treated on 6th May 2014 by Dr. Mutinda for wounds on the flank inflicted during a territorial fight with another bull.
Examination of the carcass:
The decomposing carcass was estimated at 3 days old and viscera had been extensively eaten by scavengers. No major findings were recorded during a post mortem examination because of the decomposed state of the carcass. Suspected cause of death was internal injuries sustained in a fight.
Case #2 Treatment of a sick elephant:
Date: 18th May 2014
Age: Sub adult
Location: Meru National Park
On 18th May 2014 the Meru Veterinary Unit was alerted to an injured elephant by a research team on routine wildlife monitoring activities in Meru national park. The sub adult male (12 years old) elephant showed lameness on its right forelimb and was lagging behind the group.
The elephant was darted at 5.15pm after tracking the herd in the thickets. For immobilization Etorphine Hcl 10mg in a 1.5cc DanInject dart was used. The dart was placed into the gluteal muscles and the elephant was down in 5 minutes.
A quick examination showed a swollen right forelimb with a deep penetrating wound (> 6 inches) into the carpal joint. Copious pus discharged from the wound. There were penetrating wounds at the base of the trunk and into the metatarsal of right hind limb. These injuries were caused by gunshot.
• Chemical debridement of the wound using dilute hydrogen peroxide
• Lavage with Povidone Iodine
• 30% Oxytetracycline Hcl 200ml deep intramuscularly
• 0.1% Dexamethasone 50 ml intramuscularly
After treatment the elephant was revived at 5.45 pm using Diprenophine Hcl 36 mg injected intravenously into superficial ear veins.
On 27th May he was immobilized for a review which showed little improvement. However, the elephant was still in good body condition as he was able to access browse and water. Debridement of the wounds and systemic antimicrobial were administered.
Prognosis remains guarded and we will review this case in the coming week.
Case #3 Treatment of an injured elephant:
Date: 28th May 2014
Location: Mwea National Reserve
On 28th May 2014 the warden in charge of Mwea national reserve reported to Meru MVU an injured elephant which required veterinary attention. The bull was reported to have been lying down for prolonged periods and showing little activity during the day. Because it was late in the evening we planned to treat the elephant the following day.
The elephant bull was easily located as he was showing lameness and had moved a short distance only. Darting was done on foot with the dart containing Etorphine Hcl 16mg placed into the muscles of the rump. Darting to down time was 8 minutes.
Examination revealed emaciation and a deformed right hind leg which caused lameness. There was a circular scar distal to the hock joint which may have been formed by a wire snare on the leg. This constriction caused a deformity on the leg and the snare later fell off. There was a healing wound on the middle part of the trunk.
• Multivitamin injection 200ml administered intramuscularly
• Betamox LA 150mg/ml 200ml IM
This elephant is expected to recover fully.
Case #4 Disease outbreak investigation in Embu county:
Location: Mbeere South, Embu County
In May 2014 the Meru MVU conducted a disease outbreak investigation in Mbeere South, Embu county. This followed media reports of human anthrax epidemic in which one person died and several others were hospitalized.
The anthrax epidemic was traced back to a hippopotamus which died on 18th May at the banks of Sagana river and which carcass was consumed by the local community. We interviewed local community, the county administration, veterinary and public health officials.
On 28th May the subcounty Veterinary Officer and the KWS warden in charge of Embu county is reported to have visited the scene and found the skeleton of a hippo. The V.O advised that the remains of the carcass be buried deep to prevent further spread of the disease. This was done under supervision of the V.O who provided protective clothing to the handlers. No samples of diagnostic value were collected from the hippo carcass.
No other carcasses of hippo and sympatric wildlife or livestock were found along the river banks during the survey. Sensitization of local community on prevention of anthrax and prophylactic antimicrobial treatment of people who were exposed was recommended. A detailed report was prepared for the KWS management.
Other clinical cases:
i. Routine health check of 2 security dogs in Meru national park on 16th May 2014
ii. A male sub adult elephant carcass was examined in Meru national park on 20th May 2014. No conclusive cause of death was recorded after post mortem examination of the carcass, however it was assumed to have died of natural causes. Both tusks were recovered.
iii. Warden in charge buffalo springs reported on 21st May that a crocodile had strayed into the buffalo spring swimming pool from Ewaso river. A search for the crocodile to relocate it was unsuccessful.