equid

Donkeys are Different

Citation

Faith A. Burden, Alexandra K. Thiemann. March 2015. Donkeys are Different. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

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Publication date: 
20 March 2015
Abstract

As a unique species of equine the donkey has certain specific variations from the horse. This review highlights the origins of the donkey and how this impacts upon its behaviour, physiology and propensity to disease. The donkey is less of a flight animal and has been used by humans for pack and draught work, in areas where their ability to survive poorer diets, and transboundary disease while masking overt signs of pain and distress has made them indispensable to human livelihoods.

When living as a companion animal however the donkey easily accumulates adipose tissue, this may create a metabolically compromised individual prone to diseases of excess such as laminitis and hyperlipaemia. They show anatomical variations from the horse especially in the hoof, upper airway, and their conformation. Variations in physiology lead to differences in the metabolism and distribution of many drugs. With over 44 million donkeys worldwide it is important that veterinarians have the ability to understand and treat this equid effectively.

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The evaluation of ethnoveterinary medicines for treating gastrointestinal nematodes in working equids

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Date presented: 
Wednesday 2 July 2014
Abstract

Introduction: Herbal medicines have been used in human and animal medicine for centuries to treat parasitic diseases; few examples have been investigated for genuine anti-parasitic activity. In developing countries access to effective anthelmintic treatment for livestock is often limited by cost, availability and variable quality. Reports of resistance to benzimadazoles in ruminants in Ethiopia serve as a warning that anthelmintic resistance may also be an emerging problem [1,2]. In light of these issues there is increasing interest in plant remedies as alternatives to synthetic anthelmintics. This study used a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) to identify plants with potential anthelmintic activity in the Oromia region of Ethiopia; five plant extracts were shortlisted and tested for efficacy against cyathostomins using in vitro assays. Current attitudes to ethnoveterinary medicine were discussed.

Methods: Focus group discussions with 29 groups of donkey owners from the Oromia region of Ethiopia explored the use of plants to treat GI parasites in livestock. Current attitudes to herbal medicines were discussed and recorded using thematic analysis. Plants of interest were collected and identified at the National Herbarium, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Plants were shortlisted for in vitro tests based on four criteria; ranking in the PRA, supportive literature, no evidence of toxicity and availability. Hydro-alcoholic extraction of dried plant material from shortlisted species was performed. The efficacy of extracts was evaluated in the egg hatch assay (EHA) using cyathostomin eggs recovered from the faeces of donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary, UK. Dose response curves were produced and ED-50 values calculated using probit analysis.

Results: The focus groups identified 21 plants used as anthelmintics in livestock. A general move away from traditional medicines in the younger generation was observed, although when asked if they would use plants in future many would consider this if they had been tested scientifically and were approved by professionals. The five plants shortlisted for in vitro analysis were Acacia nilotica, Cucumis prophetarum, Rumex abysinnicus, Vernonia amygdalinia and Withania somnifera. Three showed efficacy in the EHA; Acacia nilotica, Cucumis prophetarum and Rumex abysinnicus , with EC-50 values of 0.7, 1.1 and 1.3mg/ml respectively.

Conclusion: Three out of five of the plants identified in the PRA showed efficacy in vitro suggesting that plant remedies used by livestock owners in the Oromia region of Ethiopia may contain compounds with genuine anthelmintic activity. Evaluation of current attitudes suggests that plant remedies are not used unless there is no other option, but that they would be considered should scientific evidence of efficacy and safety be presented to them by animal health professionals [3]. It is therefore essential that a randomised controlled trial is used to verify whether in vitro anthelmintic activity can be translated in vivo and thus whether the plants identified in this study have potential as safe alternatives to synthetic anthelmintic drugs. This study has highlighted that local practices pertaining to the health of working equids are a rich source of information that may help to inform sustainable and effective treatment strategies in future.

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Participatory study of medicinal plants used in the control of gastrointestinal parasites in donkeys in Eastern Shewa and Arsi zones of Oromia region, Ethiopia

Citation

Claire Scantlebury, Laura Peachey, Jane Hodgkinson, Jacqui. B. Matthews, Andrew F. Trawford, Mulugeta Getachew, Gebre Tefera, Gina L. Pinchbeck. September 2013. Participatory study of medicinal plants used in the control of gastrointestinal parasites in donkeys in Eastern Shewa and Arsi zones of Oromia region, Ethiopia. BMC Veterinary Research. 9:179. 1-12.

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Publication date: 
1 September 2013
Volume: 
9
Issue: 
179
Page numbers: 
1-12
DOI number: 
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-179
Abstract

Background

Gastrointestinal nematode infections constitute a threat to the health and welfare of donkeys worldwide. Their primary means of control is via anthelmintic treatments; however, use of these drugs has constraints in developing countries, including cost, limited availability, access to cheaper generic forms of variable quality and potential anthelmintic resistance. As an alternative, bioactive plants have been proposed as an option to treat and control gastrointestinal helminths in donkeys. This study aimed to use participatory methodology to explore donkey owner knowledge, attitudes and beliefs relating to the use of plant-based treatments for gastrointestinal parasites of donkeys in Ethiopia.

Results

In focus groups, 22/29 groups stated they knew of plants used for the treatment of gastrointestinal parasites in donkeys. All groups volunteered plants that were used in cattle and/or small ruminants. In total, 21 plants were named by participants. ‘Koso’ (Hagenia abyssinica) ‘Grawa’ (Vernonia amygdalina) and a mixed roots and leaves preparation were the most frequently named plant preparations. ‘Enkoko’ (Embelia shimperi) and ‘a mixture of roots and leaves’ were ranked highly for effectiveness in donkeys. However, ‘Grawa’ and ‘Koso’ were the highest ranked when taking into account both the rank position and the number of groups ranking the plant.

Thematic analysis of participants’ current attitudes and beliefs surrounding traditional plant-based remedies for gastrointestinal parasites revealed that anthelmintics obtained from clinics were generally favoured due to their ease of administration and perceived higher effectiveness. There was doubt surrounding the effectiveness of some plant-based treatments, but there were also perceived advantages including their low cost, ease of cultivation and availability. However, plant-based treatments were considered a “past trend” and people favoured “modern” medicine, particularly among the younger generation.

Conclusions

There was extensive knowledge of plant-based treatments for gastrointestinal parasites in livestock in Ethiopia. In donkeys, Koso (Hagenia abyssinica), Grawa (Vernonia amygdalina), Enkoko (Embelia shimperi) and ‘mixed roots and leaves’ were the most frequently named and/or highest ranked plants with reported efficacy against gastrointestinal parasites. Further in vitro and in vivo investigation of these plants is now required to determine viable alternatives for the treatment and control of gastrointestinal parasites in Ethiopia.

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Characterisation of Asinine Pulmonary Fibrosis and similarities to an emerging human interstitial lung disease

Citation

Amy Miele, Nicole du Toit, Harriet Brooks, Sionagh H. Smith, W Wallace, C Dhaliwal, J Murchison, T Schwarz, N Hirani, C Haslett, K Dhaliwal, Bruce McGorum. Characterisation of Asinine Pulmonary Fibrosis and similarities to an emerging human interstitial lung disease. Presented at BSAS Annual Meeting 2013. (16 April - 17 April 2013). Nottingham, UK.

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Date presented: 
Tuesday 16 April 2013
Event name: 
BSAS Annual Meeting 2013
Abstract

Introduction

Pleuroparenchymal Fibroelastosis (PPFE) is an emerging, idiopathic and likely under diagnosed condition that does not fall within any of the current classifications of human interstitial lung diseases (Frankel et al, 2004). Key features include an upper zone predominance of pleural fibrosis with associated intra-alveolar fibrosis and elastosis of alveolar walls (Frankel et al, 2004; Reddy et al., 2012). The objective of our study was to examine ex vivo lung tissue from a small cohort of aged donkeys with a high prevalence (35%) of fibrosing interstitial lung disease termed Asinine Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF;Morrow et al, 2010). APF is a potentially debilitating and untreatable syndrome of donkeys that is poorly understood and rarely documented. We hypothesise that some cases of APF share several key gross and histopathological features of PPFE and propose that both can be linked to recurrent respiratory infection.

Materials and Methods

Whole asinine lungs were collected from 30 aged donkeys at routine necropsy examination at two UK donkey sanctuaries between June 2009 and September 2012. 19 ‘APF affected’ donkeys had evidence of pulmonary fibrosis on gross examination while 11 ‘control’ animals had grossly normal lungs. Lungs were manually inflated prior to clamping of the trachea and gross images were photographed with a digital camera. 16 whole inflated ex vivo lungs (11 APF, 5 controls) were then imaged with high resolution computed tomography (HRCT). Tissue samples were collected from each lung into 10% buffered formalin according to a standard protocol before undergoing routine processing to paraffin blocks. Sections were routinely stained with haematoxylin and eosin (H&E), elastic van Gieson (EVG) and Masson’s trichrome (MT). HRCT images and histology sections were reviewed independently and blindly by a radiologist and pathologist respectively from both medical and veterinary fields. Sections and HRCT images were categorised as ‘definite’, ‘consistent with’ or ‘inconsistent with’ with regard to PPFE using criteria described by Reddy et al (2012). Cases were categorised as ‘definite’ on either CT or histology if there was pleural thickening with associated subpleural fibrosis either concentrated in upper or dorsal lung lobes (with respect to CT evaluation) or demonstrating intra-alveolar fibrosis with alveolar septal elastosis (with respect to histological evaluation of EVG sections). CT images were categorised as ‘consistent with’ if there was dorsal lobe pleural thickening and associated subpleural fibrosis but the distribution of fibrosis was not concentrated in the dorsal lung lobes or there was evidence of coexistent lung disease elsewhere. Histology sections were categorised as ‘consistent with’ if intra-alveolar fibrosis was present but either not associated with pleural fibrosis, not predominantly subpleural or not in a dorsal lobe biopsy. ‘Inconsistent with’ was assigned to cases that lacked the aforementioned features either on CT or histology.

Results

Ages of ‘APF affected’ (median 31 years, range 14-53) and ‘control’ (median 28 years, range 4-36) donkeys at the time of death were not significantly different (Mann Whitney, p>0.05). The donkeys comprised 11 geldings and 19 entire jennies. 10/19 APF affected cases were euthanased on humane grounds due to respiratory disease, while 9 were euthanased on humane grounds for other reasons and pulmonary fibrosis was an incidental post mortem finding.
10/19 APF affected cases were categorised as either ‘definite’ or ‘consistent with’ PPFE on histological evaluation, while 9 showed histological evidence of pleuroparenchymal fibrosis but this did not have an intra-alveolar distribution. 8/11 APF affected cases were categorised as either ‘definite’ or ‘consistent with’ PPFE on evaluation of HRCT images. Two of the remaining 3 cases showed pleural and subpleural fibrosis concentrated in the ventral lung lobes while one demonstrated diffuse ground glass opacity with minimal pleural fibrosis. Histological evaluation of these three cases also resulted in an ‘inconsistent with’ classification. All control cases were classified as ‘inconsistent with’ on both HRCT and histology.

Conclusions

APF is a common yet rarely diagnosed and apparently untreatable syndrome of aged donkeys. This study is the first to combine HRCT and histological data to characterise and document pathological features of APF. We conclude that the majority of cases of APF share key pathological features with human PPFE. Further study of APF may yield valuable information to help elucidate the aetiopathogenesis of this emerging human disease.

Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the MRC.

References
Frankel, S.K., Cool, C.D., Lynch, D.A., & Brown, K.K., 2004, CHEST Journal 126(6): 2007.
Morrow, L., Smith, K., Piercy, R., et al., 2010, Journal of Comparative Pathology.
Reddy, T.L., Tominaga, M., Hansell, D.M., et al., 2012, European Respiratory Journal 40(2): 377.

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Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task

Citation

Britta Osthaus, Leanne Proops, Ian Hocking, Faith A. Burden. December 2012. Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task. Animal Cognition.

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Publication date: 
28 December 2012
Journal: 
Animal Cognition
DOI number: 
DOI 10.1007/s10071-012-0589-4
Abstract

We investigated perseveration and detour behaviour in 36 equids (Equus caballus, E. asinus, E. caballus x E. asinus) and compared these data to those of a previous study on domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). The animals were required to make a detour through a gap at one end of a straight barrier in order to reach a visible target. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials). We recorded initial deviations from the correct solution
path and the latency to crossing the barrier. In the A trials, mules crossed the barrier significantly faster than their parental species, the horses and donkeys. In the B trials, following the change of gap location, all species showed a reduction in performance. Both dogs and horses exhibited significant spatial perseveration, going initially to the previous gap location. Donkeys and mules, however, performed at chance level. Our results suggest that hybrid vigour in mules extends to spatial abilities.

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A novel approach to pain recognition in donkeys

Citation

Gabriela Olmos, Faith A. Burden. A novel approach to pain recognition in donkeys. Presented at 14th World Congress on Pain, Sattelite Symposia: Pain and Pain Management in Non-Human Species. (27 August - 31 August 2012). Milan, Italy.

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Date presented: 
Sunday 26 August 2012
Abstract

Pain due lesions and clinical conditions is one of the main welfare concerns of the more than 42 millions donkeys that presently exist in the world. Yet, the knowledge to gauge pain in donkeys is lacking, misunderstood and/or not validated (Ashley, 2005).

Pain (yes/no/uncertain) and its severity (VAS; no pain=0 to worst pain=100mm) was assessed in 403 donkeys’ ante-mortem (ATM) and post-mortem (PTM). Also behaviours/signs (BS) and pain related lesions (PRL) were assessed ATM and PTM, respectively. Using principal component analysis the more than 53 BS and 238 PRL observed were narrowed to 58 biologically meaningful component or groups (14 BS and 44 PRL components, respectively). Components were used as risk factors in multiple regression analysis to identify which BS and/or PRL are commonly used in clinician’s (veterinary/pathologist) decision making process to determine whether a donkey ‘is’ (i.e. ATM) or ‘was’ (i.e. PTM) in pain and its severity (mild to severe). Furthermore, multiple correlations were made to understand which BS relate significantly with specific PRL and how.

A cross tabulation between pain ATM and PTM, where pain related lesions are used as a quasi-gold standard of pain assessment; identify that 2 in 10 donkeys are wrongly assumed as in NO-PAIN. Moreover, only 43% of the donkey observations are used by clinicians to make their opinion on donkey pain and its severity (i.e. 7 BS and 18 PRL components were significantly associated with pain as stated by clinicians). Yet, multiple correlations showed 20 plausible biologically meaningful relationships between BS and PRL; some currently not used by clinicians.

This methodology, previously successfully used in humans (Gregory, 2010) is novel to donkey veterinary medicine and warrants further research to consolidate findings. Nonetheless, the achieved correlation list of behaviours vs. pathologies is a significant work with valid applications in donkey pain identification and prognosis.

Ashley FH, Waterman-Pearson AE, Whay HR (2005) Behavioural assessment of pain in horses and donkeys: application to clinical practice and future studies, Equine Vet J, 37(6), 565 - 575.

Gregory NG (2010) Relationships between pathology and pain severities: a review. Animal Welfare 19, 437-448.

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A cluster-randomised controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of different knowledge-transfer interventions for rural working equid users in Ethiopia

Citation

Andrew P. Stringer, Catriona Bell, Robert M. Christley, Feseha Gebreab, Karen Reed, Andrew F. Trawford, Gina L. Pinchbeck. June 2011. A cluster-randomised controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of different knowledge-transfer interventions for rural working equid users in Ethiopia. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 100:2. 90-99.

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Publication date: 
15 June 2011
Volume: 
100
Issue: 
2
Page numbers: 
90-99
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.prevetmed.2011.02.001
Abstract

There have been few studies evaluating the efficacy of knowledge-transfer methods for livestock owners in developing countries, and to the authors' knowledge no published work is available that evaluates the effect of knowledge-transfer interventions on the education of working equid users. A cluster-randomised controlled trial (c-RCT) was used to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of three knowledge-transfer interventions on knowledge-change about equid health amongst rural Ethiopian working equid users. Groups were exposed to either; an audio programme, a village meeting or a diagrammatic handout, all of which addressed identical learning objectives, and were compared to a control group which received no intervention. Thirty-two villages were randomly selected and interventions randomly assigned. All participants in a village received the same intervention. Knowledge levels were assessed by questionnaire administration. Data analysis included comparison of baseline data between intervention groups followed by multilevel linear regression models (allowing for clustering of individuals within village) to evaluate the change in knowledge between the different knowledge-transfer interventions. A total of 516 randomly selected participants completed the pre-intervention questionnaire, 504 of whom undertook the post-dissemination questionnaire, a follow up response rate of 98%. All interventions significantly improved the overall 'change in knowledge' score on the questionnaire compared to the control, with the diagrammatic handout (coefficient (coef) 9.5, S.E.=0.6) and the village meeting (coef 9.7, S.E.=0.6) having a significantly greater impact than the audio programme (coef 4.8, S.E.=0.6). Covariates that were different at baseline, and which were also significant in the final model, were age and pre-intervention score. Although they had a minimal effect on the intervention coefficients there was a significant interaction between age and intervention. This study should aid the design of education materials for adult learning for working equid users and other groups in developing countries.

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Development of a quantitative multivariable radiographic method to evaluate anatomic changes associated with laminitis in the forefeet of donkeys

Citation

Simon N. Collins, Sue J. Dyson, Rachel C. Murray, Richard Newton, Faith A. Burden, Andrew F. Trawford. August 2012. Development of a quantitative multivariable radiographic method to evaluate anatomic changes associated with laminitis in the forefeet of donkeys. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 73:8. 1207-1218.

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Publication date: 
8 August 2012
Volume: 
73
Issue: 
8
Page numbers: 
1207-1218
DOI number: 
10.2460/ajvr.73.8.1207
Abstract

Objective—To establish and validate an objective method of radiographic diagnosis of anatomic changes in laminitic forefeet of donkeys on the basis of data from a comprehensive series of radiographic measurements.

Animals—85 donkeys with and 85 without forelimb laminitis for baseline data determination; a cohort of 44 donkeys with and 18 without forelimb laminitis was used for validation analyses.

Procedures—For each donkey, lateromedial radiographic views of 1 weight-bearing forelimb were obtained; images from 11 laminitic and 2 nonlaminitic donkeys were excluded (motion artifact) from baseline data determination. Data from an a priori selection of 19 measurements of anatomic features of laminitic and nonlaminitic donkey feet were analyzed by use of a novel application of multivariate statistical techniques. The resultant diagnostic models were validated in a blinded manner with data from the separate cohort of laminitic and nonlaminitic donkeys.

Results—Data were modeled, and robust statistical rules were established for the diagnosis of anatomic changes within laminitic donkey forefeet. Component 1 scores ≤ −3.5 were indicative of extreme anatomic change, and scores from −2.0 to 0.0 denoted modest change. Nonlaminitic donkeys with a score from 0.5 to 1.0 should be considered as at risk for laminitis.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that the radiographic procedures evaluated can be used for the identification, assessment, and monitoring of anatomic changes associated with laminitis. Screening assessments by use of this method may enable early detection of mild anatomic change and identification of at-risk donkeys.

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Social relations in a mixed group of mules, ponies and donkeys reflect differences in equid type

Citation

Leanne Proops, Faith A. Burden, Britta Osthaus. May 2012. Social relations in a mixed group of mules, ponies and donkeys reflect differences in equid type. Behavioural Processes.

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Publication date: 
10 May 2012
DOI number: 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.012
Abstract

Donkeys and mules are frequently kept as companion animals for horses and ponies, with these different equids often being considered a homogenous group. However, the extent to which domestic equids form inter-specific bonds and display similar social behaviour when living in a mixed herd has not previously been studied. Here we compare the social organization of these three (sub)species when housed together, providing the first systematic analysis of how genetic hybridization is expressed in the social behaviour of mules. A group of 16 mules, donkeys and ponies was observed for 70 h and preferred associates, dominance rank and the linearity of the group’s hierarchy was determined. The different equids formed distinct affiliative groups that were ordered in a linear hierarchy with ponies as the most dominant, mules in the middle ranks and donkeys in the lowest ranks. Within each equid subgroup, the strength of the hierarchy also varied. Thus in the present study, the three (sub)species displayed different social organization and levels of dominance and preferred to associate with animals of the same equid type, given the opportunity. These results suggest that different domestic equid (sub) species display variations in social behaviour that are likely to have a strong genetic basis.

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