Common Clinical Health Problems of Donkey

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Published on International Journal of Agriculture & Agribusiness
Publication Date: March 15, 2019

Kindalem Bayew
Animal Health Department Head in Janamora Wereda Livestock Development Office
Janamora, Ethiopia

Journal Full Text PDF: Common Clinical Health Problems of Donkey (Study in Janamora Wereda).

A study was conducted from October 2018 to February 2019 on donkeys presented to Janamora veterinary clinic for any health problems with the aims of identifying common donkey health problems. Potential risk factors for the occurrence of the most common health problem, colic, was also assessed. A total of 86 sick donkeys were presented to the clinic. The overall prevalence of gastro intestinal diseases were 38.4% (N=33) followed by musculo skeletal diseases 26.7% (N=27), non specific spticemic diseases 9.3%(N=8), skin diseases 7.0%(N=6), respiratory 5.8%(N=5), reproductive 3.5%(N=3), ophthalmic 4,7%(N=4) and nervous system 2.3%(N=2). Out of the gastro intestinal disease condition, colic was the most common and it accounted 69.7% (N=23) followed by gastrointestinal parasitism 27.2 %( N=9). The occurrence of this common disease (colic) was associated with origin of the animal and abrupt feed change. Higher occurrence of colic was noticed on donkeys from urban area (40%) than rural (19.7%) and those exposed to abrupt feed change (94.4%) than those not exposed to abrupt feed change (7.4%). However, the occurrence of colic is not associated with feed type, body condition score, sex and age. Generally, a wide range of diseases were identified in the current study and the study has clearly indicated colic as a prevailing health problem of donkeys in Janamora veterinary clinic. Hence, implementing comprehensive waste disposal, health and feeding management should be practiced and further studies should be conducted to identify cause of non specific general health problems.

Keywords: Health Problems, Donkeys, Janamora, Risk Factors.

Ethiopia is a country with one of the highest donkey populations in the world with approximately 7.43 million donkeys, which is 32% of Africa’s and 10% of the world’s donkey population (CSA, 2015). The small-scale farmers and the High land areas of Ethiopia have the largest share with 2–3 animals per family and with female donkeys being the most common (70%) [1].
In Ethiopia, donkeys are important animals to the resource where poor communities both in urban and rural areas, providing traction power and transport service at low cost and in the remote areas of Ethiopia. Pack animals offer the only realistic way of obtaining returns from agriculture above mere existence. Donkeys provide the transport that brings food and water to millions in the remotest parts of the vast country, where roads and communications do not exist. [2].
Donkeys (Equus Asinus) are the smallest members of the equine family which also includes horses, zebras, and mules. Since their domestication over 4000 years ago, they have been an important part of human civilization and culture and the wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, E. africanus [3].
Donkeys are intelligent creatures and will not run from trouble. They can be stubborn but only when they question their safety. There are more than 44 million donkeys in the world, mostly in developing countries, where they are used principally as draught or pack animals. Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels. Small numbers of donkeys are kept for breeding or as pets in developed countries [4].
Working donkeys are prone to painful, debilitating and often tropical illness and conditions such as tetanus, parasitic infestation, and colic. In addition, these animals work under difficult environmental conditions including intense heat, difficult terrain and often inappropriate equipment, with inadequate food and water, resulting in exhaustion, dehydration, malnutrition, lesions and hoof problems [2].
There is no study conducted in the current study area to identify common health problems in donkeys. Therefore the objective of this paper is;
 To asses common donkey diseases in Janamora Wereda veterinary clinic.
 To identify the risk factors for the occurrence of the most common disease.

2.1. Study area
Janamora Wereda is located in North Janamora Zone of Amhara region, at the latitude and longitude of 12o59’N 38o07’E at a distance of about 180km from Janamora town. Janamora Wereda is well-known with Semien mountain National Park, Ras Dashen i.e the highest point in Ethiopia and it is a home to a number of endangered species including the Ethiopian Wolf, waliya ibex, and a wild goat which no found in elsewhere in the world. The area has an altitude range of 2900 meters above sea level. The region is marked by numerous mountains, hilly, and sloppy areas, plateaus, rivers, and many streams. Livestock population of the area comprises 100,386 cattle, 32,975 sheep, 131,041 goats, 2,540 horses, 634 mules, 7758 donkeys, 119,347 poultry. The farming system of the study area is characterized by a mixed crop-livestock production system. Transhumance, from the highlands to western lowlands, is practiced as an important strategy to secure grazing resources for the highland livestock during the dry season of the year. In the case of the lowlands, crop farming is not as intensive as high and mid-highland areas and livestock has larger contributions to the farmer’s livelihoods [5].

2.2. Study Design
Donkeys presented to the clinic for any health problem during the study period was thoroughly examined for disease condition(s) according to Kelly [6]. Personal interview and clinical examination was used as a tool to identify the systems affected. This was supported with laboratory examination whenever applicable. Potential risk factors that may have influence on the occurrence of the most common disease, colic, such as sex, age, body condition scores, feed type, sudden feed change and origin of the donkeys were also assessed through clinical examination and interviews of the owners. Finally, diseases were categorized based on the systems involved such as gastero-intestinal, musculoskeletal, skin, respiratory, reproductive, nervous, ophthalmic and non specific diseases. Further, tentative and definitive diagnoses were made based on the findings.

2.3. Study Population
A study was conducted on 86 clinically sick animals which were presented to Janamora veterinary clinic. All Donkeys presented to the clinic for any health problem were included in the study.

2.3 Data Management and Analysis
The data collected from 86 donkeys were entered into Microsoft excel spread sheet and analyzed using SPSS version 20 statistical software. Descriptive statistics were used to quantify the results and Chi- square (χ2) was used to determine the association of potential risk factors with occurrence of the most common health problem, colic. In all calculations, the confidence interval was set at 95% and statistical significant differences were considered at (p<0.05).

Out of 86 donkeys presented to Janamora Wereda veterinary clinic during the study period, 38.4% (N=33) were found having gastrointestinal problems, 26.7% (N=23) with musculo skeletal problems and 9.3% (N=8) with non specific septicemic disease conditions. The details of systems affected are presented in table 1.
Out of the gastro intestinal disease conditions, colic takes the first line which accounted 69.7% (N=23) followed by gastro intestinal parasitism (27.2%, N=9) which was identified by clinical examination and further confirmed by fecal examination and treatment response to Ivermectin. One case of rectal prolapsed (3.1%) was also identified under gastrointestinal disease conditions.
The occurrence of colic in donkeys was assessed for its association with potential risk factors such as feed type, origin, abrupt feed change, sex, age and body condition score. Statistical significant association (p< 0.05) was observed in origin of the animals and abrupt change of feed as shown in Table 2.