Surgical treatment of non-responding diphtheria cases in feedlot cattle via long term tracheostomy
Keywords:bovine, diphtheria, feedlot, surgery
Laryngeal diphtheria is a contributor to morbidity and mortality in feedlot cattle. Medical treatment has resulted in great success; however, advanced cases often do not successfully respond to systemic antimicrobials. The purpose of this report is to describe a surgical procedure performed in field settings on feedlot calves with diphtheria that failed to respond to medical treatment. Forty-five medically nonresponding clinical diphtheria cases were selected for surgery. The calves were restrained in a chute, surgically prepped, and local anesthesia was administered. A surgical incision through the skin, subcutaneous tissues, and a transverse incision between tracheal rings was performed. A tracheostomy tube was placed inside the tracheal incision to provide a patent airway. A total of 42 surgical cases (93%) with diphtheria completed the balance of the feeding period to harvest. Complications including obstruction due to organic material and loss of tube were managed successfully when identified early. Surgical treatment of calves failing to respond to medical therapy in feedlot cattle provides a practical option to perform in field settings with minimal risk for complications. While the incidence of non-responding diphtheria cases is small, surgical treatment of calves failing to respond to medical therapy provides an option to impact mortality of the affected population and allow preservation of resources.