Diseases / List of Physical / Traumatic Diseases / Disease description:

Frostbite in Waterfowl (with notes on Cranes, Elephants and Lagomorphs)

Frostbite on the wattles of a wattled crane.  Click here for full-page view with caption.

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

 

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General and References

Disease Summary

Tissue damage from severe cold. In waterfowl, mainly affecting the feet and usually of tropical species in very cold weather.

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Alternative Names (Synonyms)

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Disease Type

 Physical / Traumatic

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Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

Severe exposure to cold, e.g. standing and roosting on ice or snow.

Infective "Taxa"

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Non-infective agents

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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)

Lagomorphs: Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103)

Click image for main Reference Section

Referees

Anna Meredith MA VetMB CertLAS DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS (V.w128); Richard Saunders BVSc BSc CertZooMed MRCVS (V.w121)

Major References / Reviews

Code and Title List

In Waterfowl:
B10
.26.w12, B11.33.w1, B11.36.w4, B13.16.w11, B13.46.w1, B15, B20.14.w11, B136.30.w1
J1.28.w2
J4.155.w2
J7.15.w6, J7.15.w7, J7.33.w2
J23.13.w2
P4.1990.w2, P4.1992.w1
V.w6

In Cranes:
D441
P108.9.w2

In Elephants:
B64
.27.w4, B214.3.7.w3

In Lagomorphs:
B608
.21.w21

Other References

Code and Title List

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Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

WATERFOWL Toe damage, dry gangrene and later sloughing. May lead to acute septicaemia or bacterial endocarditis.
ELEPHANTS Elephants exposed to severe cold may develop dry gangrene and sloughing along the edges of the ears and prepuce. (B64.27.w4, B214.3.7.w3) 
LAGOMORPHS Frostbite has been reported in rabbits that have been suddenly exposed to a cold climate without a period of acclimatisation. (B608.21.w21)

Clinical Characteristics

WATERFOWL
  • Usually affects the feet in waterfowl: Initially affected area cold and pale, then inflamed swelling (erythema and oedema) of webs and toes.
  • Later affected webs become pale, and may become necrotic; there may be dry gangrene of the web and of one or more toes. May slough, losing areas of web and/or part or all of one or more toes.

(J1.28.w2, J4.155.w2, J7.15.w6, J23.13.w2, P4.1990.w2, P4.1992.w1, B10.26.w12, B11.36.w4, B13.46.w1, B20.14.w11)

CRANES
  • Toes (even the whole foot) appear white and later fall off. (D441)
  • Foot knuckling may occur, due to peripheral nerve damage. (J311.21.w1)
ELEPHANTS
  • Usually affects the edges of the ears. (B64.27.w4)
  • Sloughing of affected areas. (B214.3.7.w3)
LAGOMORPHS

Incubation

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --

Mortality / Morbidity

WATERFOWL Occasional mortality, due to severe tissue injury or via the development of acute septicaemia or bacterial endocarditis (J7.33.w2, B11.36.w4).
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --

Pathology

WATERFOWL Local destruction of tissue. May involve skin and subcutaneous tissue only, or deeper tissues also. (B136.30.w1).
  • Distinct zone of hyperaemia separating necrotic area from viable tissues (J1.28.w2).
  • Vegetative valvular endocarditis may develop later (J4.155.w2).
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --

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Human Health Considerations

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Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

WATERFOWL
  • Tropical species such as whistling ducks (Dendrocygna spp. and the magpie goose Anseranas semipalmata are more susceptible (J7.15.w7, J23.13.w2, P4.1992.w1, B11.33.w1, B11.36.w4, B13.46.w1).
  • Inadequate nutrition, weakness and general debility may predispose to frostbite (P4.1990.w2).
CRANES
  • Tropical crane species are most susceptible. (D441)
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS
  • Frostbite has been reported in rabbits that have been suddenly exposed to a cold climate without a period of acclimatisation. (B608.21.w21)

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

In waterfowl

[N.B. Miscellaneous / Traumatic Diseases tend to be under-reported and the majority are likely to affect all waterfowl species, given exposure to the related disease agents/factors.]

  • Swans, ducks and geese at St Louis Zoological Park, USA (J4.155.w2).
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos - in severe winter weather in Saskatchewan, Canada (J1.28.w2).
  • Common shelducks Tadorna tadorna - in severe winter weather in the UK (J7.15.w6)
  • Red-billed (black-bellied) whistling duck Dendrocygna autumnalis and other whistling ducks Dendrocygna spp. (J7.33.w2).
In cranes
In elephants
  • Frostbite has been reported in elephants (species not specified) exposed to severe cold. (B64.27.w4)
  • Frostbite affecting the ears and prepuce has been recorded in a circus elephant. (B214.3.7.w3)
In Lagomorphs 
  • Frostbite has been reported in rabbits that have been suddenly exposed to a cold climate without a period of acclimatisation. (B608.21.w21)

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).

Host Species List

MAMMALS:

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

  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos - in severe winter weather in Saskatchewan, Canada (J1.28.w2).
  • Common shelducks Tadorna tadorna - in severe winter weather in the UK (J7.15.w6)

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).

Host Species List

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Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

  • Inadequate shelter and heat.
  • Associated with below-freezing temperatures in winter and waterfowl having to stand and roost on snow and ice.

(J4.155.w2, B11.36.w4, B13.16.w11, B15)

  • In elephants, frostbite may occur when the animal is subjected to severe cold. (B64.27.w4, B214.3.7.w3)
    • it has been suggested that temperatures below 20 C, with wind-chill, are required to produce frostbite in the elephant. (B214.3.7.w3)

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

North America, UK (J1.28.w2).

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

North America (J1.28.w2).

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General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

WATERFOWL History and clinical signs. Assess degrees of loss of soft tissue viability on the basis of skin discolouration, loss of neuromuscular control, reduced skin temperature, leakage of serosanguinous fluid, disrupted blood flow to distal extremities (B13.16.w11).
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

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Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS
  • Occasionally, rabbits are seen with ear pinna necrosis which may look similar to that seen in frostbite. Sometimes this is associated with intravenous or intra-arterial access (See: Iatrogenic Segmental Ear Gangrene in Elephants and Lagomorphs). Other cases may be due to chewing of the ear tip by the mother or a sibling, of possibly due to injection of unidentified toxins affecting vascular supply. (V.w121)

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Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

WATERFOWL
  • Topical antibiotic cream (J23.13.w2, B20.14.w11).
  • (Care should be taken with the use of petroleum-based ointments in waterbirds as they may disrupt waterproofing V.w6).
  • Combination of systemic ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and topical application of aloe vera has been shown to reduce tissue loss in experimental animals and to reduce morbidity and length of stay in hospital in humans (B136.30.w1).
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

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General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

WATERFOWL
  • Initial: rapid rewarming of affected areas in water bath at 39-42C (102-107.6C) (B136.30.w1)
  • Maintain in clean environment while healing (J23.13.w2).
  • Amputation of devitalized areas may be considered; however, conservative management is required until the demarcation between viable and non-viable tissue become clear ( P4.1992.w1, B136.30.w1).
ELEPHANTS
  • Treatment as for other species. (B64.27.w4)
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

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Preventative Measures

Vaccination WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Prophylactic Treatment

WATERFOWL

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ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques

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WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

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Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection

WATERFOWL

  • House tropical species inside in freezing weather.
  • Provide good dry bedding e.g. straw to stand on in outside pens in winter
  • Provide windproof covers and screens.
  • Ensure areas of water remain open.
  • Increase water temperature if feasible, for example by using water from underground sources.
  • Ensure good water hygiene.

(J7.15.w7, J23.13.w2, P4.1992.w1, B10.26.w12, B11.33.w1, B11.36.w4, B13.46.w1)

ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS Avoid suddenly exposing rabbits to a cold climate without a period of acclimatisation. (B608.21.w21)
Population Control Measures WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening WATERFOWL --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

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