Nutritional Muscular Dystrophy can also be known as white muscle disease and also Nutritional Myopathy.
Causes: It is caused by a deficiency of two minerals, Vitamin E and selenium, in sheep and also affects goats.
It is a degenerative muscular disease which is usually associated with areas in which soil deficiencies are present.
Where vitamin E is deficient in soil this usually means poor forage quality.
It is most likely to occur in new-born lambs or animals experiencing fast growth rates.
Signs: The disease itself affects skeletal muscles, the animals heart muscles. It can affect both muscles at once!
When it affects the skeletal muscles of sheep the animal can be seen hunching its back, or with very bad posture. They will also have a stiff gait.
When heart muscles are affected animals begin to have breathing problems, are frothy at the mouth and also suffer from fever.
Animals can also be seen to have basal discharge, which is sometimes bloody.
There are many other signs linked to the disease of course, and vigilance is definitely key in combatting the illness.
Animals may suffer from lower conception rates as a result, dystocia, a retained placenta, reduced milk production, fetal re-absorption, reduced semen quality in rams, and a reduced immune response overall.
Treatment: It can be treated with the use of an injection of both vitamins which are the cause, vitamin E and selenium. Though the earlier it’s diagnosed the better.
Animals will respond within the first day of receiving the injections, though second doses can be given if needed, but only of vitamin E. If an animal hasn’t improved after day one it is advised to then give a second dose.
No more than two doses should ever be given in a short period of time.
The best way to prevent the disease is to ensure your pastures are not deficient in the minerals causing it.
This can and should be done via regular soil checks, though farmers should tend to know their soils pretty well.