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Studies on Osteodystrophia Fibrosa in Equine.


Osteodystrophia fibrosa is important disease in equines, primarily occurs due to excessive feeding of phosphorus rich diet in which Ca : P ratio is 1 : 2.9 or more (Krook and Lowe, 1964). The disease principally occurs in horses and other equines, where it is called as bran disease, big head or miller's disease and also seen to a lesser extent in other non-ruminant species such as dog, pig and cat. This condition is more prevalent in equines which are engaged in heavy work load such as transportation, racing, due to tendency of maintaining these animals on unbalanced diet (Clarke et al., 1996). Considering the above facts, present study was planned to evaluate the prevalence of osteodystrophia fibrosa in equines and their clinical and biochemical changes and suitable therapeutic strategies.

Materials and Methods

A total of 187 equids (mules: 154, hHorses: 33) were reported for various ailments at college clinics mostly from Katra region used for pilgrimage. Out of these 13 equids (mules: 11, h: 2) had the history of difficulty in mastication, reduced appetite and swelling of facial bones, these animals were maintained on unbalanced diet (rice bran/ wheat bran regularly in diet and occasional seasonal green fodder) and involved in heavy work load. Clinical examination revealed, normal rectal temperature, respiration rate and pulse rate, bilateral enlargement of maxillae and mandibles were seen without any nasal secretions, mild to moderate degree of dyspnoea with upper respiratory tract noises and difficulty in passing stomach tube was also recorded. Plasma calcium, phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase were estimated, blood samples were collected from all animals in anticoagulant (heparinised) vials and plasma was separated immediately by centrifugation. Reagent kit method and to visualize the changes in bones radiography of head region was done.

All animals were treated initially by Intacal-IM (a) (Calcium levulinate, Vitamin [D.sub.3], Vitamin [B.sub.12]) @ 15 ml thrice in a week along with oral supplementation of lime water @ 50 ml bid and liquid Vimerol (b) (Vitamin A, [D.sub.3] and E) @10ml bid daily for 4 weeks. Owners were advised to remove rice bran and wheat husk/bran from the diet and advised to give wheat straw along with some green fodder regularly and rest to the animals. After supplementation, recovery in term of restoration of appetite without any difficulty in mastication, slight reduction in facial swelling were observed in all animals. The owners were further advised to supplement lime mixed with molasses (1 kg of lime mixed with 1.5 kg of molasses) twice/month regularly in diet, to maintain the nutritional imbalance. After three months of supplementation, all animals showed marked improvement in term of reduction of facial swelling.

Results and Discussion

Overall 6.95% prevalence of osteodystrophia fibrosa in equids of Jammu region, in mules the prevalence was 7.14% while in horses 6.06%. All animals affected with this condition were adults of age group of 4-8 years. The findings of present investigation are very high contrary to the findings of Bhasker and Ganapathy (1982). Osteodystrophia fibrosa is important disease in equines particularly those maintained on lower plane of nutrition and involved in heavy work loads, the majority of equines used for piligrimage at Katara were maintained on unbalanced diets and always used to carry heavy loads which might be the predisposing factor for higher prevalence of the disease.

Mean plasma values of calcium, phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase were 7.85 [+ or -] 0.60 mg/dl, 8.90 [+ or -]0.46 mg/dl and 442.85 [+ or -] 90.76 iu/l respectively. In present study reduced level of plasma calcium and increased levels of plasma phosphorus level, alkaline phosphates levels were also increased indicating disturbance in calcium phosphorus ratio might have leads to production of parathormone resulting in resorption of calcium from bones leading into osteodystrophia (Toribio, 2004).

The radiographic findings of head region revealed increased translucency of bones such as maxillae, premaxillae and mandibles, indicating reduced bone density which might have occurred due to increased bone resorption. Earliest radiographic changes in osteodystrophy fibrosa are increased radiolucency, miliary mottling and progressive loss of the laminae durae dentes. (Krook and Lowe, 1964).

Oral supplementation of liquid calcium along with vitamin supplementation had been recommended in the treatment of secondary calcium deficiency as occurs in Osteodystrophia fibrosa and withdrawal of phosphorus rich diet such as wheat bran and rice bran which are rich in phosphorus and supplementation of green fodder and wheat straw and concentrate diet (balanced ration) had been found to be effective. In present study after supplementation (parentral and oral) of calcium and multivitamins, condition of all the affected animals' viz. mastication difficulty and appetite improved a great deal after four weeks, but not much reduction in facial swelling was recorded. The owners were advised to kept animals on balanced ration and provide oral calcium in diet in the form of 1kg of lime mixed with 1.5kg of molasses restored a positive calcium balance which had been reflected in term of recovery from mastication difficulty and facial swellings (Gartner et al., 1981).


Bhasker, C. G and Ganapathy, M. S. (1982). Osteodystrophia fibrosa in Indian race horses. Indian Vet. J. 59: 898-04.

Clarke, C.J., Roeder, P.L and Dixon, P.M. (1996). Nasal obstruction caused by nutritional osteodystrophia fibrosa in a group of Ethiopian horses. Vet. Rec. 139: 568-70.

Gartner, R.J.W., Blayney, B.J and McKenzie, R.A. (1981). Supplements to correct oxalate-induced negative calcium and phosphorus balances in horses fed tropical grass hays. J. Agric. Sci. Camb. 97: 581-89.

Krook, L and Lowe, J.E. (1964). Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism in the horse with a description of the normal equine parathyroid gland. Pathologia Veterinaria. 1: 98.

Toribio, R.E. (2004). Disorders of the endocrine system. In: Equine Internal Medicine (eds. Reed SM, Bayley WM and Sellon DC) Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis. 1295-1327.

A.K. Tripathi (1), J.S. Soodan and R.B. Kushwaha

Division of Veterinary Clinic and Teaching Hospital

Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry

Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST-J)

R.S. Pura

Jammu - 181102 (Jammu and Kashmir)

(1.) Present address: Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Medicine, DUVASU and Corresponding author. E-mail:

(a) - Brand of Intas Animal Health, Ahmedabad

(b) - Brand of Virbac Animal Health, Mumbai
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Clinical Article
Author:Tripathi, A.K.; Soodan, J.S.; Kushwaha, R.B.
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2017
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