Diseases / List of Micronutrient (Vitamin / Mineral) Diseases / Disease description:

Zinc Deficiency (with special reference to Waterfowl and Elephants)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

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General and References

Disease Summary

Poor growth and epithelial lesions.

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Alternative Names (Synonyms)

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Disease Type

Nutritional - Minerals

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Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

Zinc deficiency. Zinc is necessary for the activation of several enzymes, and is a part of carbonic anhydrase. (B32.2.w23)
  • Zinc deficiency may arise due to a deficiency of zinc in the diet, lack of bioavailability of dietary zinc, or excessive ingested calcium, which may impede zinc absorption. (P1.1989.w4)

Infective "Taxa"

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Non-infective agents

  • Zinc - deficiency
  • Calcium - excess (causing reduced zinc absorption)

Physical agents

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References

Disease Author

Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5); Gracia Vila-Garcia DVM, MSc, MRCVS (V.w67)
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Major References / Reviews

Code and Title List

B32.2.23

Waterfowl:

Elephants:

Elephas maximus - Asian Elephant

Other References

Code and Title List

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Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

  • Zinc deficiency in mammals may be associated with growth retardation, atrophy of the thymus, listlessness, alopecia, skin changes such as parakeratosis and hyperkeratosis (B101), and impairment of both cell-mediated and antibody-mediated immunity. (J135.76.w1, J376.130.w1)
  • Zinc deficiency in birds may cause retarded growth, poor feather development, shortening and thickening of the long bones, enlargement of the hock joints and sometimes drying, thickening and cracks of the foot pads, with hyperkeratosis. (B101)
WATERFOWL Poor growth and epidermal lesions (hyperkeratosis, acanthosis) of the foot webs.
ELEPHANTS Zinc deficiency in elephants has been associated with possible secondary immune deficiency and epidermal lesions such as hyperkeratosis and vesicles. (P1.1989.w4)

Clinical Characteristics

WATERFOWL
  • Depression and huddling.
  • Growth retardation, which may be severe.
  • Epidermal foot lesions, particularly on the webs; may be severe.
  • Excessive salivation. moistening and matting of feathers around the eyes.
  • External nares may be blocked with dried debris.

(J6.6.w2, J49.120.w1, B32.2.23).

ELEPHANTS
  • Hyperkeratotic areas on the extensor surfaces of the elbows and on the tail. (P1.1989.w4)
  • Crusty skin lesions in the coronary area above the toenails of the front feet (hyperkeratosis and vesiculobullae). (P1.1989.w4)
    • When the crusts were removed, clear exudate was expressed from the vesicles and vesiculobullae, 1-3 cm diameter, that were located above the toenails. (P1.1989.w4)
    • Various bacteria were cultured from the exudate. (P1.1989.w4)
    • After treatment the lesion recurred or appeared in adjacent areas. (P1.1989.w4)
  • Presumptive secondary immunodeficiency: no white blood cell response - no pus formation - despite bacterial secondary infection. (P1.1989.w4)
  • In wild Loxodonta africana - African Elephant, skin lesions on the back have been seen which resembled those seen in pigs with zinc deficiency. No information was available on the zinc status of the affected animal. (J62.38.w2)

Incubation

WATERFOWL Severe lesions by one to two weeks old in ducklings on extremely zinc-deficient diet (<6mg/kg feed) (J6.6.w2, J49.120.w1).
ELEPHANTS --

Mortality / Morbidity

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --

Pathology

WATERFOWL Gross Pathology:
  • Nasal - masses of yellow caseous material in nasal sinuses; external nares may be blocked with dried debris.
  • Bill - May have mild ventral flexure. Skin at commisures may be inflamed, fissured and scabbed.
  • Posterior tongue and larynx - thick masses of caseous material, attached to papillae on the tongue, and to the oral surface of the larynx.
  • Feet - exfoliations of soft keratin and epidermal debris on interdigital webs (variable extent). Thickening, fissuring and crusting of skin on plantar surface of the foot, particularly the digital pads.

Histopathology:

  • Epidermis of interdigital web, mucous membrane of tongue and sometimes other respiratory and gastro-intestinal tract stratified squamous epithelium (e.g. roof of mouth, oesophagus, crop) - acanthosis, hyperkeratosis, heterophil infiltration in the epithelium. Epithelial erosion with overlying debris of keratin, desquamated epithelium, degenerated inflammatory cells and erythrocytes. May contain secondary bacterial foci with associated dermal inflammation.

(J6.6.w2, J49.120.w1)

ELEPHANTS Gross Pathology:
  • Skin:
    • Crusty skin lesions above the toenails of the front feet. (P1.1989.w4)
    • When the crusts were removed clear exudate was expressed from the vesicles found above the toenails. (P1.1989.w4)
    • In wild Loxodonta africana - African Elephant, hyperkeratosis, parakeratosis and acanthosis were noted in back lesions. No information was available on the zinc status of the affected animal. (J62.38.w2)

Histopathology:

  • Skin:
    • Hyperkeratosis of both elbows. (P1.1989.w4)

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Human Health Considerations

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Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS
  • Zinc deficiency may arise due to a deficiency of zinc in the diet, lack of bioavailability of dietary zinc, or excessive ingested calcium, which may impede zinc absorption. (P1.1989.w4)

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Disease has been reported in either the wild or in captivity in:

Waterfowl:
  • Experimental in commercial table ducks (J6.6.w2).

Elephants:

Elephas maximus - Asian Elephant:

  • A 37-year-old female captive elephant was diagnosed with zinc deficiency causing presumptive secondary immune deficiency and skin lesions. (P1.1989.w4)

Host Species List

BIRDS

MAMMALS

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Disease has been specifically reported in Free-ranging populations of:

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Host Species List

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Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

- -

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded in Free-ranging populations

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General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS
  • Analysis of the diet revealed a deficiency in zinc: 21.56 mg/kg of zinc on a dry matter basis. (Horses' requirement for zinc is 40 mg/kg). (B450.9.w9, P1.1989.w4)
  • Serum samples for zinc analysis: levels did not prove to be useful for monitoring zinc. (P1.1989.w4)
  • Hair samples for zinc analysis: in this group of elephants, individuals with the lowest zinc levels in hair showed the most hyperkeratosis. However, levels in hair from elephants at other zoos did not show good correlation with the levels of hyperkeratosis in those elephants. (P1.1989.w4)
  • Culture of the fluid expressed from the vesicles above the toenails revealed a mixed growth of Klebsiella, Citrobacter, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus and Enterococcus sp. (P1.1989.w4)
Related Techniques
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Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --

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Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS
  • Oral zinc supplement: two grams of zinc carbonate per elephant per day. (P1.1989.w4)
    • Within two weeks of starting the oral zinc supplementation the elephant showed a dramatic improvement of the clinical signs. (P1.1989.w4)
Related Techniques
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General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS
  • The infected vesicles above the toenails were debrided and instilled topically with polyhydroxine solution, silver nitrate, copper naphthenate, DermaClens (Beecham; cream containing benzoic, malic and salicylic acids) and 1% chlorhexidine acetate ointment on a regular basis. (P1.1989.w4)
    • Lesions recurred repeatedly. (P1.1989.w4)
  • Immune stimulation therapy weekly, with a product developed for dogs and horses (Immuno Regulin, Propionibacterium Acnes, Immunostimulant, Immunovet, Inc., 5910-Breckenridge Parkway, Tampa, FL 33610), given at the horse dose, weekly for eight weeks, to treat the apparent immunodeficiency. (P1.1989.w4)
    • The initial treatment resulted in fever, flu-like signs of malaise and anorexia, and the neutrophil count increased to normal. (P1.1989.w4)
    • The lesions became less erosive and did not enlarge as rapidly, and pus production occurred in the lesions. However, the lesions still recurred. (P1.1989.w4)
    • The immunostimulant treatment was stopped when the diagnosis of zinc deficiency was made. (P1.1989.w4)
Related Techniques
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Preventative Measures

Vaccination WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
Prophylactic Treatment

WATERFOWL

  • 60 ppm zinc in feed recommended allowance for Pekin ducks (B13.46.w1).
  • Suggested minimum for birds in general 45-55 ppm (B16.19.w1, B35.13.w6).
ELEPHANTS
  • Zinc supplement in feed to provide a daily intake of 53.6 mg/kg feed on a dry matter basis. (P1.1989.w4)
Related Techniques
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Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection

WATERFOWL

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ELEPHANTS --
Population Control Measures WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
Related Techniques --
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