Foot Rot

Causative agent: Unknown in bison
In cattle, foot rot is caused by Fusobacterium necrophorum (9). The organisms responsible for footrot in bison have not been reported. In bison the incidence is relatively low compared to cattle (19). In cattle, wet weather, stony ground, and rough pasture can cause abrasions of the skin between the toes allowing bacteria to enter the interdigital tissue, producing lesions (9). The pathological features of foot rot in bison have not been reported.

Clinical signs:
The most frequent presenting sign is lameness that may be accompanied by spreading of the toes and swelling of the foot (19). In cattle inflammation of the foot can cause sufficient fever to result in temporary sterility of bulls. This has not been reported in bison. The infection can spread from the interdigital region into the joints of the foot causing arthritis and permanent lameness.

Injections of systemic antibiotics, such as penicillin, oxytetracycline, and sulfamethazine are the most common treatments for foot rot. Long acting antibiotic preparations are the most practical choice for bison (see treatment of actinobacillosis above). In many cases recovery is spontaneous (19).

The main goal is to reduce exposure of the bison to wet, muddy areas. Some suggestions are:

  • provide water in troughs, rather than dugouts and sloughs.
  • move water troughs when mud holes develop around them.
  • elevate water bowls and surround them with porous fill so that they are dry and well drained.
  • fence sloughs and wet areas to prevent bison from accessing them.
  • move salt, mineral, and grain feeders when mud holes develop around them.
  • watering areas, feeding areas, and salt blocks may be fenced and a foot bath with zinc sulfate, or copper sulfate set up in the entry way to these fenced areas.

Most cases are isolated and do not warrant extensive control measures.


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