A group of veterinary students from Australia’s Murdoch University had an exciting case study during their visit to Okonjima and AfriCat as part of our Vets for Wildlife program.
Their visit coincided with a request to AfriCat’s vet, Dr Ulf Tubbesing of Wildlife Vets Namibia to come and see a sable (Hippotragus niger) cow that looked very thin, but with a severely bloated abdomen. The students accompanied Wildlife Vets Namibia, Okonjima Nature Reserve management and AfriCat staff to find, immobilize, assess and treat the sickly sable. They learnt how to handle, transport and maintain an immobilized antelope and to support it during the reversal process.
Blood and fecal samples were obtained for analysis, and a general physical examination was performed. Since the sable cow was thin with a bloated abdomen, and had pale mucous membranes, she was treated for a suspected worm infestation and given supportive vitamins. Upon return to the lab, microscope analysis of the fecal sample collected showed a heavy barber pole worm (H. Contortus) burden and blood analysis indicated severe anemia. These two things are directly correlated as the barber pole worm feed on blood. This is a common intestinal parasite around the world and in particular affects, sheep, goats and captive sable. Although this sable is wild, she originally came from a game farm and may have been harboring the infection since that time. Advanced age and a switch to lower quality winter grazing may have reduced her resistance allowing the worm infection to increase. The treatment received at the time of her immobilization is expected to reduce the infection. She and the rest of her herd were then monitored by Okonjima Reserve management.
After her health check, sample collection and treatments the sable was given a reversal injection intravenously, made a smoothly recovery and rejoined her herd.