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Tuesday, March 23 2010

     It has been confirmed that Jamaica The Sheep has tetanus.  Her chances of recovery are slim. This is an ugly disease. I first noticed she was a bit off on Saturday morning. Saturday night there was clearly a problem but I didn't recognize the classic signs of tetanus.  She was standing like a sawhorse with white foarm around her mouth.

        She looked like a Hollywood version of a rabid dog!

     As is so often the case, we couldn't get a vet out on the weekend, so assuming it was an intestinal problem, we treated the symptoms.  That didn't work.

     Sunday morning there was still no vet available, but the next best thing WAS available: THE INTERNET!!!!  No, despite our attempts at internet sleuthing, we were unable to google our way to a diagnosis.  I'm on several yahoo sheep groups.  I put the question to them and was quickly rewarded with multiple cries of "TETANUS!!!!"  (thank God for the internet!)

     We started her on the antitoxin and put her on fluids. By Sunday night she was paralyzed from the neck down.  I decided to shoot her.  Then . . . I got multiple notes telling me that these farmers had gone through this and HAD sheep RECOVER.  Looking at Jamaica, I figured that it was impossible.  I called Dear Friend for moral advice.  I wanted to give this sheep every chance to live, but didn't want her to suffer.  I have shot sheep who were in better shape than Jamaica is now.

     Dear Friend and her Husband-The-Dog-Vet have a bottle-fed goat and are now looking into getting sheep and more goats.  He wants to start working on sheep and they threw out the idea of bringing Jamaica to their garage and treating her in a more "sterile" environment" than the horse stall (where she obviously contracted the tetanus!)

     We discussed the course of treatment with folks who had done this before (thank GOD for the internet!) and with my large animal vet. We had a game plan.  The future still looks dismal, and I hate to prolong her suffering, but this particular sheep has shown a remarkable desire to live, and so as long as she wants to live, we will help her.

     I have given her to them, and so if she makes it, they have told me they will change her name to Princess and pamper her like a pet.  While it still doesn't look good, if any ewe can survive, it'll be this one.  And if she doesn't, then we will have still learned valuable veterinary skills. 

This has given me a greater respect for tetanus.  It is an ugly death. While I don't know what shots she had prior to coming to my place, I know that we gave her the vaccine, and she still got tetanus.  From what I understand this is a very common thing. Don't put too much faith in that vaccine.  Know the early signs of the disease.  Had we caught it early and started her on massive doses of antitoxin then, we may not be where we are now. Who knows?

     I do know that I've had horses and goats for YEARS and never had a case of tetanus, but when it hits, it's a shocking eye-opener. I didn't have enough respect for this disease. Jamaica is like a cadaver in rigor mortis (she is THAT STIFF!) and yet, she is still breathing and she is still swallowing her smoothies.   We will know something soon.  Either she'll get better with the anti-toxin or she'll die.  The farmer in me says, "put her down."  The vet in me says "let's try to save her."

I can tell you this much - this disease is so bad that it's enough to make ME run out and get a tetanus booster! 

On another note: 

Border Collie was spayed today. While the vet was doing the procedure, he and I were talking to the tech about what a good dog she was and how much help she is to us on the farm.  (Vet is my neighbor and knows first hand!) After listening to our stories about this dog, Vet Tech said, "Why are we spaying her? Put those back!!!"  (her ovaries were already out) 

I stood over her little prone body and worried the whole time. I hate putting a dog under for anything, but she made it through the surgery just fine.  Phone is ringing. Vet.  I can pick up my little Kung Fu Panda now. 

And so begins the drama of trying to keep a Border Collie quiet . . .  





Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
*Keep a BC quiet*.....LOL.....has that hot place frozen over??? Have you pushed water uphill??? Yeah, me neither.....LOL....
Posted by Diane I. on 03/25/2010 - 12:37 PM
It's impossible! It's actually easier to let her come, but just to tell her to walk "easy" and slow her down. She is showing absolutely no effects from the surgery. After the first day she was up and bouncing again.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 03/26/2010 - 10:44 AM

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