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Clinico-Diagnostic Studies and Therapeutic Management of Otitis in Buffaloes.


The prevalence of parasitic otitis among buffaloes was 70.48 percent (with 117/166 of ears having clinical otitis with parasite presence). Among the parasites, Stephanofilaria sp., Onchocerca sp., Rhabditis sp. and Railletia auris were obtained from 32.47, 5.98, 5.13 and 40.17 percent of ears, respectively. All were infested ears with parasitic otitis responded to Ivermectin treatment.

Keywords: Buffalo; diagnosis; otitis; parasitic


Bovine otitis is a common problem in tropical regions of world, frequently attributed to parasitic infections by mites of genus Raillietia and nematodes of genus Rhabditis and Stephanofliaria and may also be associated with diverse bacterial and fungal microbiota (Duarte et al., 2001). The affected cattle could remain without clinical signs for long period of time or exhibit neural lesions in advanced cases or may result in death (Facci-ni and Costa, 1992).

Ear sore caused by Stephanofilaria zaheeri and Railletia auris infestation in buffaloes has been previously reported in India. Though some amount of work has been done in some parts of world with regards to etiology, diagnosis and treatment of parasitic otitis in cows, sparse information is available on occurrence of parasitic otitis in buffaloes, while no reports are available on record with regards to incidence of Rhabditiform otitis in India. Hence in present study, an attempt was made to analyze the significance of parasitic otitis.

Materials and Methods

A total of 2807 buffaloes presented were screened for presence of otitis. The incidence amongst the cases screened was categorized based on etiological agents recovered from total otitic ears. The ears with otitis (166) were sampled to identify etiological agents.

Otitic cerumen and inspissated pus were collected from external ear close to external acoustic meatus with the help of sterile swabs moistened with sterile saline solution, while aural discharges were collected with dry sterile swab to perform cytological examination, bacteriological and mycological culture to identify the etiological agents. Video-otoscopy was performed by using an otoendoscope. Detection of parasites (Fig. 1) was done by adopting the following methods.

Rhabditoid Species

The cerumen or ear secretions from animals were collected with the aid of sterile swabs which were reinserted into test tubes and subsequently exposed to sunlight. This procedure induced migration of nematodes from specimen to wall of test tube, where they could be easily visualized even with naked eye (Leite and Faccini, 1994). The nematodes were also visualized by direct examination of cerumen or ear secretions under microscope.

Mites (Railletia auris)

To detect the mites of genus Raillietia, the ear canal was flushed with approximately 100 ml of filtered lukewarm water. The backflow of flush was collected in falcon tubes, which were labeled and sealed for transport to laboratory for further identification. The mites were observed and identified with the help of magnifying glass or light microscope (Faccini et al., 1987 and Leite and Faccini, 1994). Mites were also identified by swabbing or by performing video-otoscopy where facilities are available.


Deep ear scrapings were obtained from pinna which were mixed with normal saline teased with dissecting forceps and examined under light microscope immediately after collection for presence of skin microfilariae (Stephanofilaria and Onchocerca species) (Soulsby, 2005).

The cases of otitis were divided into groups based upon etiology. The buffaloes with parasitic otitis were subjected to treatment with Ivermectin (Neomec (a) subcutaneously at dose rate of 200 mg/kg b.wt.). If clinical cure was not achieved after first injection, a second dose was administered on 14th day as the bioavailability was 14 days after a single subcutaneous injection (Campbell and Benz, 1984). In all cases of parasitic otitis, Inj. Melonex (a) (Meloxicam) was also administered intramuscularly and duration of therapy varied with severity of inflammatory reaction to a maximum of five days.

Results and Discussion

On screening of 2807 buffaloes, incidence of otitis accounted for 4.31 percent with 166 ears positive for otitis from 121 buffaloes. The etiological agents identified were parasites (70.48%), bacteria (66.27%) and yeast (62.05%) (Table 1).

Among the parasites, Stephanofilaria species, Onchocerca species, Rhabditis species and Railletia auris were obtained from 32.47, 5.98, 5.13 and 40.17 percent of ears, respectively (Table 2).

The specific signs noticed when Stephanofilaria, Onchocerca and Rhabditis species involved was the presence of nodules on pinna and lesions on skin in different proportions in some percentage of animals. A plug of tenacious supparative material which partially occluded the auditory meatus was seen whenever mites were present. Facial nerve paralysis was also recorded in one buffalo (Fig. 2).

In present study, parasites played a major role with incidence of 70.48%. These findings are in accordance with the observations of Duarte et al. (2001) and Duarte et al. (2004) who opined that bovine otitis in tropical regions was predominantly due to parasites. Similarly, in present study presence of nodules and skin lesions noticed in stephanofilarial, onchocercal and Rhabditis infestation were similar to findings of Solismaa et al. (2008) and Shah and Andrabi (2009) who reported that filaroid nematodes of Stephanofilaria and Onchocerca species caused nodular or soft fluctuating painful swellings under skin. The facial nerve paralysis, drooping and head tilt observed in otitic animals were attributed to Railletia auris infestation and inflammation could be aggravated when mixed infestation with Rhabditiform nematodes occurred (Leite et al., 1989).

Ivermectin was selected because of its vermicidal and ectoparasiticidal properties (Campbell and Benz, 1984), Leite et al. (1989) also recommended use of Ivermectin in parasitic otitis. Inj. Ivermectin had 100% recovery rate in parasitic otitis. Out of 18 ears treated, by 7th day, 9 ears were completely cured both clinically and parasitologically with complete relief from aural discharge, inspissated pus, ulcerations, excess cerumen, otalgia and head shaking. By 14th day, 6 more ears were free from lesions and parasites. By 21st day, the remaining 3 ears including the one with facial nerve paralysis which was positive for Railletia auris was also free from all symptoms. The prolonged treatment required in the study for treatment of facial paralysis and nodules were in accordance with Gill et al. (1988) and Kawasaki et al. (2009).

It is concluded that treatment for bovine otitis must be focused after identifying the cause as in routine practice, Veterinarians often treats these cases with routine antibiotic treatments without ruling out the possibility of parasitic otitis in bovines. Further, it is emphasized that control of parasitic otitis could be done by taking appropriate measures like control of flies, clean and hygienic practices, proper disposal of manure etc. Prompt diagnosis and therapy of parasitic otitis would greatly enhance the production ability of buffaloes.


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N. Lakshmi Rani (1), K. Nalini Kumari, N. Syaama Sundar, R.V. Suresh Kumar, Makkena Sreenu and P. Ananda Kumar

Department of Veterinary Medicine NTR College of Veterinary Science Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University (SVVU) Gannavaram--521101 (Andhra Pradesh)

(1.) Associate Professor and Corresponding author. E-mail:

(a) - Brand of Intas Animal Health, Ahmedabad
Table 1: Etiology of otitis (n=166)

Etiological agent                 No of      Percent
                                  ears       incidence

Parasites                          18         10.84
Bacteria                           18         10.84
Parasites + bacteria               27         16.27
Parasites + fungi/ yeast           38         22.89
Bacteria + fungi/ yeast            31         18.67
Parasites+bacteria+fungi/ yeast    34         20.48
Total                             166        100.00
Parasites                         117         70.48
Bacteria                          110         66.27
Yeast                             103         62.05

Table 2: Parasites identified in otitis

                                     Percent        Percent incidence
                                     incidence      out of parasitic
Parasite                  No.        out of total   otitic ears (n=117)
                          Positive   otitic ears

Stephanofilaria sp        38         22.89          32.47
Onchocerca sp              7          4.22           5.98
Rhabditis nematodes        6          3.61           5.13
Mites (Railletia auris)   47         28.31          40.17
Mixed                     19         11.44          16.24
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Clinical Article
Author:Rani, N. Lakshmi; Kumari, K. Nalini; Sundar, N. Syaama; Kumar, R.V. Suresh; Sreenu, Makkena; Kumar,
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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