DISEASE SUMMARY PAGE

Heel Cracks in Elephants

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Summary Information
DiseasesList of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names Sajan or Sajhan

See also:

Disease Agents
  • Predisposing factors that may lead to foot diseases in captive elephants include lack of exercise, lack of regular foot care and inspection, nail and sole overgrowth and lack of trimming, inappropriate enclosure surfaces (hard unyielding substrates contribute to the development of foot problems, for example by trauma and by lack of opportunity for digging), constant direct contact with dirty and wet surfaces in which pathogens can proliferate, malnutrition, excess feeding/insufficient exercise leading to overweight elephants which put more stress on their feet, arthritis and inherited poor foot structure. (B22.34.w12, B454.1.w1, B454.16.w16)
  • Cracks of the heel commonly occur in elephants repeatedly exposed to wet conditions and poor hygiene (standing on substrates contaminated with urine and faeces). (B10.49.w21, B64.27.w4, B212.w27, B454.12.w12)
  • "Sajan" as understood in India involves surface fungal infection, and may become secondarily bacterially infected. (B454.12.w12)

Further information on Disease Agents has only been incorporated for agents recorded in species for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Only those agents with further information available are linked below:

Infectious Agent(s)
  • Fungus
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s)
General Description

In Elephants:

  • The elephant sole is a broad and relatively flat surface.(B22.34.w12)

Clinical signs

  • Heel cracks are seen at the junction of the foot skin and the sole on the posterior edge of the feet. (B10.49.w21, B64.27.w4, B212.w27)
  • Heel cracks are seen most commonly on the hind feet. (B454.12.w12)
  • There may be a discharge from the cracked area. (B212.w27)
Further Information Treatment:
  • Clean the affected area of foot thoroughly using an antiseptic solution. (B212.w27)
  • Debride the crack, flush it with an antiseptic solution and apply a topical antibiotic dressing (e.g. nitrofurazone). (B10.49.w21)
    • Disinfectants and topical antifungal treatment is recommended for treatment of "sajan" in India. (B454)
  • In severe cases of cracks where infection is present, concurrent parental antibiotic therapy based on culture and sensitivity is indicated. (B10.49.w21, B64.27.w4)
  • The affected foot must be kept dry: (B10.49.w21, B64.27.w4, B212.w27)
    • Keep on firm, well-drained substrate. (B212.w27)
    • Bandage the foot. (B10.49.w21, B64.27.w4, B212.w27)
    • Put down sufficient sawdust or woodchips to absorb all moisture. (B10.49.w21, B64.27.w4)
    • Keep the elephant away from wet area while the foot heals. (B212.w27)
  • A leather or fibreglass boot may be used, over a bandage, for protection of a severe lesion. However, care must be take that the boot does not obstruct drainage, or the lesion will become larger, with undermining of adjacent tissue. (B10.49.w21)

Prevention:

  • Inspect the feet carefully and frequently so any cracking is noticed as soon as possible. (B212.w27)
  • Adequate regular foot trimming. (P5.39.w1)
  • Provision of appropriate, clean and dry, substrates. (B10.49.w21, B214.3.7.w3, B336.53.w53)
    • Rubber mats on concrete sleeping areas may be beneficial. (B454.5.w5)
    • A lightly brushed concrete floor is recommended, as it provides an adequate surface: deep brushed concrete floors tend to accumulate faeces and urine where bacteria can grow. (J4.171.w5)
  • Regular exercise, preferably on natural substrates. (B454.5.w5)
  • Adequate hygiene. (B454.5.w5)
  • Provision of access to uncontaminated moist substrates and water is beneficial to foot health. (B454.6.w6)
  • Adequate nutrition is recommended to maintain foot health. Biotin, protein and trace elements, such as zinc, selenium and arsenic are some of the nutrients to consider. (B454.3.w3)
  • Correction of certain repetitive abnormal behaviours. (B454.5.w5)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken).

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this disease)

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