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Therapeutic Management of Otitis Media in an Asiatic Elephant.


A fifty years old elephant with purulent ear discharge from left ear canal for past one week were presented. Clinical signs observed were head tilting towards the affected side. Cultural examination revealed Staphylococcus sp. and Pseudomonas sp. as the principal pathogens associated. Antimicrobial sensitivity pattern revealed sensitivity for Gentamicin, Ciprofloxacin and Tetracycline and resistance to Cefotaxime, Ampicillin, Streptomycin and Penicillins. The animal recovered completely after six days of therapy with Gentamicin and adjunct therapy.

Keywords: Antimicrobial sensitivity; clinical management; elephant, otitis media


Inflammation of middle ear structures is called as otitis media resulting from extension of infection from external ear canal through the tympanic membrane or from migration of pharyngeal microorganisms through the auditory tube. Occasionally, infection extends from inner ear to middle ear or reaches middle ear by hematogenous route. (Oliver et al., 1997). It can be unilateral or bilateral and can affect animals of all ages. Pathogens isolated from otitis media and otitis interna, include Staphylococcus sp, Pasteurella sp, Streptococcus spp. Pseudomonas sp., Neisseria sp., Corynebacterium sp and Arcanobacterium sp are frequently isolated from ears of affected animals., If left untreated, the disease can progress to otitis interna and meningitis (Vestweber, 1999). Otitis media is reported in many of domestic livestock species like cattle (Yeruham et al., 1999)), horses (Powr et al., 1983), swine (Shimada et al., 1992), sheep (Jensen et al., 1982), and goats (Wilson and Brewer, 1984). Clinical findings associated with otitis media and otitis interna include head shaking, rubbing or scratching of affected ear and tilting or rotating the head toward the affected side as well as purulent discharge from external ear canal and epiphora (Oliver et al., 1997).

History and Diagnosis

A 50 years old Asiatic elephant was presented with history of ear canal infection for past one week. Clinical examination revealed tilting head toward the affected side along with purulent discharge from left ear canal. The animal also exhibited restlessness. Samples of ear canal swab and discharges were collected for clinical diagnosis and subjected to bacteriological isolation studies. Nutrient agar, Mac Conkey agar, SDA agar and Blood agar were used as primary culture media for isolation of organisms from samples according to methods described by Quinn et al. (1994). Culture plates were incubated aerobic as well as anaerobic conditions at 37[degrees]C for 24 hours and colonies were subjected for cultural, morphological and various biochemical test viz. catalase, oxidase, urease test as per methods described by Barrow and Felthem (1993). The isolates were subjected to in vitro antibiotic sensitivity as per method described by Bauer et al. (1966).

Treatment and Discussion

Growth in nutrient agar revealed small grey and pigmented colonies. Gram staining of colonies revealed gram positive cocci and gram negative rods. Growth in blood agar revealed small hemolytic colonies. No growths were obtained in SDA and Clostridial agar plates. Isolates from nutrient agar and Blood agar were confirmed as Staphylococcus sp. and Pseudomonas sp. on the bases of cultural, morphological and biochemical characters these results are in agreement with Barrow and Felthem (1993). Antimicrobial sensitivity studies indicated that organisms were sensitive to Gentamicin, Ciprofloxacin and Tetracycline and resistance to Cefotaxime, Ampicillin, Streptomycin and Penicillin. The affected elephant was treated with Gentamicin ear drops (Gracin (a)) Inj. Flunixin megulamine (Banamine (b)) @ 1.1 mg/ kg b. wt IM and Inj. Tribivet (c) @10ml/animal IM for 5 days were given. The animal recovered completely within five days of therapy. The antibiotic therapy was continued for period of 6 days.

The clinical sign of otitis media were purulent discharge reported to appear 2-3 days after apparent clinical signs are similar to those previously reported by Yeruham et al. (1999). In our case, microbes associated with otitis media includes Staphylococcus sp. and Pseudomonas sp. organisms, it is generally agreed that most cases of otitis in animals are caused by bacteria, of which Streptococcus spp are among the most commonly isolated pathogens (Shell, 1988). Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a gram-negative bacillus is ubiquitous in environment but an uncommon inhabitant of normal external ear canal and middle ear associated with ear canal infection (Degi et al., 2010). Whenever otitis externa accompanies otitis media/interna, the ear should be examined closely for mites and foreign bodies, such as plant awns and discharge cultured for bacteria. Many aerobic and anaerobic bacteria have been isolated from ears of animals with otitis media/interna and mixed infections are more common (Radostits et al., 2001). Isolation of bacterial pathogen(s) or mites from ear helps direct initial treatment but does not necessarily imply causation of otitis media/interna, because the organisms can be isolated from external ear canals of apparently healthy animals (Yeruham et al., 1999).

Therapeutic management of otitis media/interna is most successful when started curing early course of the disease. Chronic cases are often refractory to treatment or recur after apparent remission. The animal recovered completely after 6 days of therapy. Henderson et al. (1993) reported that clinical remission of animal after 5-7 days of treatment. The chronicity and implicated pathogens could influence the duration of treatment.


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S. Parthiban (1), S. Malmarugan and J. Johnson Rajeswar

Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Veterinary College and Research Institute (VCRI) Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) Tirunelveli - 627358 (Tamil Nadu)

(1.) Assistant Professor and Corresponding author.


(a) - Brand of MSD Animal Health, Pune

(b) - Brand of Biochem Pharma Industries, Mumbai

(c) - Brand of Intas Animal Health, Ahmedabad
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Title Annotation:Short Communication
Author:Parthiban, S.; Malmarugan, S.; Rajeswar, J. Johnson
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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