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INTAS POLIVET (2007) Vol. 8 No.

II : 368-370

Clinico Therapeutic Studies on Downers Syndrome in Cattle and Buffaloes

K.V. Ramakrishna
Assistant Director, Animal Disease Diagnosis Laboratory Eluru, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh

The term downers cow syndrome signifies all those disorders that render the cow or buffalo unable to rise on its own due to ischemic lesions of muscles

Alert downers - 17 cows and 11 buffaloes (85%

and 84.6%) are alert downers. They are bright and alert with normal apatite, defecation and urination.

and nerves of hind limbs and pelvis. Reports of

this condition are made among cows but the same

There is moderate elevation of temperature and all of them are in sternal recumbency. Heart rate
(75-95 /min) and respiratory rates (29-38/min) were

are scarce in buffaloes. Prolonged recumbency due to inadequately treated and unresponsive hypocalcaemia is one of the common causes of

increased. All animals tried to rise on their feet

while the attempts were seen higher in Buffaloes. They are more responsive to external stimuli and

downers syndrome (Radostities, 1994 and

Chakrabarti, 1998). Jasson (1983) observed that 65% cases of injuries of muscles, nerves and hind limbs terminate as downers. Recumbency due to various clinical conditions for periods in excess of 10 hours can induce pressure necrosis of nerve and muscle tissue and the lesions are secondary to the recumbency it self.(Aiello1998) .
The present report attempts to study the etiology,

assistance in these attempts than cows. Four

buffaloes and three cows tended to be creepers
Similar findings were recorded by Umakanthan (1996) and Wadhwa and Prasad (2002.).
from Group I and II

Non alert downers -3 cows and 2 buffaloes are non alert downers (15% & 15.4% respectively).

They are dull, depressed and were in lateral

recumbency and unable to attain sternal

recumbency despite assistance. There was complete loss of apatite and temperature is
elevated (103F and 102.4F) with accelerated respirations and cardiac rates (114 & 36/min).

clinico pathological nature and therapeutic

outcome of downers syndrome among cows and buffaloes.

Materials and Methods

A total of 33 animals, 20 Holstein Frisian cows and 13 buffaloes of 5-8 years reported as downers at Veterinary Institutions of Musunur and Bapulapadu

Decubital ulcerations are observed over the

pressure points for all these animals. Cows from Group II and Group V developed spread eagling.
One cow each from Group I and IV and one buffalo from Group V developed myoglobinuria. Wadhwa

of Krishna District between 1999-2002 were

selected. All these animals are in 2-4 lactation and recumbent for 1-5 days. Dung samples and blood

and Prasad (loc.cit.) recorded



smears were examined and were free from

significant parasitic or protozoan infestation.
On the basis of etiology these animals are divided

into five groups (Table-1) Physiotherapy and

related management was instituted for a period of 2-10 days. Unresponsive cases after this period

are either culled or died. On the basis clinical findings these animals are classified into two
categories, Alert and non Alert downers.

Milk production was completely reduced in both these categories. Tachycardia and arrhythmia were evident among non alert downers and can be attributed to the development of myocardial lesions. They died within 3-4 days of recumbency despite treatment.

Treatment The treatment was aimed to correct under lying


Ramakrishna Table 1

Etiology and treatment of Downers syndrome in cattle and buffaloes.

Group Etiology
Duration of recumbency (hours)



















Mifex1m1/kg, Tribivet 5m1 i/m, Intalyte 5m1/kg Tonophospan 5m1 I /M, Agrimin forte 50g Pot.Chlor 30g daily orally Comp lamina, Neurobion, Gentamicin, Dexamethasone 2m1 each epidurally daily 7 days along with Tribivet, Intalyte and Pot. Chlor (30g orally)

Pelvic muscle & nerve injuries due to forced traction



4 (20)




Post parturient septic metritis




(15) (15.3)


Oxytetracycline 10mg/kg IN in NS. Povidone iodine 20-40 ml intrauterine, Dexamethasone 1mg /kg Diclofenac sodium 3mg/kg
Intalyte 5m1/Kg


Prolapse of Uterus







Reduction of uterine mass Mifex 1m1 /kg I/V, Dexamethasone 0.5 mg kg, Diclofenac Sodium 3mg /kg I/M BID, Oxytetracyclin 10mg /kg I/M
Comp lamina, Neurobion, Gentamicin 2m1 epidurally daily 5days. Intalyte 5m1/kg Diclofenac 3mg /Kg BID Pot. Chlor 30 g orally

Accidental fall on trenches and slippery floor without fractures / dislocations




(15) (15.3)





(40%) (62%)

cause.(Table-1). Physiotherapy comprised of soft bedding and frequent rolling.2.5 ft of sand or paddy straw bedding was provided and the animals were rolled from one side to the other for every 4 hours to prevent bed sores. Animals were assisted to

supportive slings. Massage of hind limbs and hot

water fomentation was performed. Sand is

preferred as bedding for the ease it offered while turning the animals and for the regular removal of

stand for 30 minutes four times a day using



For the cases of suspected hypocalcaemia

Calcium magnesium borogluconate (Mifex, M&B pharmaceuticals)@1m1 for Kg was infused (IV) slowly. Tribivet @5m1 /animal (IM), Intalyte @5m1 per kg (IV) was infused.Tonophospan @ 5m1 daily
(IM) was administered to reduce myotonia. Agrimin forte (Ms Agrivet Pharma Pvt ltd)was given orally

grouped on the basis of their etiopathogenis and response to different treatments was evaluated. Prolonged recumbency irrespective of underlying

cause can induce muscle or nerve damage to make them as downers. Treatment included
correction of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and electrolyte imbalances, improving of circulation to the effected region, analgesia and nervine tonics. Soft bedding using sand or paddy straw, periodic

@ 50 gr / Animal / day in 2 divided doses.

Potassium chloride 30 gr orally daily was given.
Dichlofenac Sodium was given @ 3mg per Kg BW

rolling of animals and supporting the standing

posture were adopted. Recovery rate is better in

to attain analgesia. The combined therapy was adopted due to the fact that majority of downers were associated with hypocalcaemia, hypophosphatemia and hypokalemia.(Allen and

buffaloes than in cows. Those animals that

attempted to rise on their own responded well. Non alert downers responded poorly and same is true for those with pelvic muscular/pelvic nerve injuries.

Davis 1981 and Andrews et a! 1992). Low

potassium was recorded among downers and potassium supplementation was advocated. (Curtis eta! 1970, Narayana eta! 1977)
Hypokalemia is due to increased permeability of muscle fibers as a consequence of recumbency

References Aiello (1998). The Merck's Veterinary Manual. 8'h edition . Merck's &Co.,lnc USA p 878.

that allowed the loss of potassium causing myotonia.Hypopotassimia is a frequent

observation in creeper cows(Nakao and Grunnert

Allen.,W.M.and Davis D.C.(1981). British

Veterinary Journal 137:435. Andrews A.W.

BloweyR.W., Boyd,H.and Eddy

Xanthinol nicotinate (Complamina, German

Remedies) a Vasodilator @ 300mg, Gentamicin
80mg and Dexamethasone @ 4mg and Neurobion @ 2m1 was infused epidurally for those where the

RS (1992). Bovine medicine diseases and husbandry of cattle a Blackwell Scientific

Publications . London.

Chakraborthy., A.A., A Text book of Veterinary Clinical Medicine (1998). Kalyani Publications.
pp 665. Curtis R.A., Cote J.F. and Willoughby, R.A. (1970). Modern Veterinary Practice 51:25.

etiology is nerve or muscle injury to improve

circulation, to control infection and inflammation.

The response to treatment is variable. Downers

due to prolapse of uterus showed highest recovery

rate followed by pelvic injuries, hypocalcaemia,

Jansson .G.(1983). Indian J, Vet Med, 3(2)1-8.

septic metritis and accidental falls on slippery

floors. The response to treatment is favorable in cases where the animals attempted to rise and poor in cases of suspected nerve injury and nonalert downers. Success rate for buffaloes (64%) is more than for cows (40%) with a over all success

Nakao.T. and Grunnert.E. (1990). Series A,, 37:610.

J, Vet, Med,

N, Karayana, Sethi DRL., Sastry KNV and

Tandaveswar M.G. Indian Vet, J. 54:148.

Radostities,OM.,Blood, D.C.and Gay CC (1994)

Veterinary medicine 8'h Edn. ELBS / Baillere Tindal,

rate of 51% which is in agreement with the observations made by Wadhwa and Prasad
(loc.cit).Curtis (loc.cit.) Narayana et al, (loc.cit.) recorded 30% and 20% of recovery. Summary

London pp 1329-1332.

Uma Kanthan ,T.(1996). Indian Vet J. 173: 358.

Wadhwa, D.R. and B. Prasad (2002) Indian

Vet. J. 79: 484-486.

Thirty three downers cows and buffaloes are