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Spastic paresis is seen in many breeds of cattle and has been referred to as “contraction of the Achilles tendon,” “straight hock,” and “Elso heel.” (See also
CATTLE, LAMENESS IN
Lameness in Cattle: Introduction .) It can be divided into 2 syndromes, one that
affects calves and one that affects adults. In calves, the condition appears to be familial and can be seen in many breeds, with signs beginning between 1 wk and 1 yr of age. It is characterized by extension of the stifle and tarsus and by spastic contracture of the muscles of one or both pelvic limbs. Spasticity primarily affects the gastrocnemius and superficial flexor muscles; in some cases, other muscles of the pelvic limb are involved. The leg is usually held in extension behind the calf and does not touch the ground during walking. The disease is progressive but usually responds to neurectomy of the tibial nerve. The etiology is unknown. No lesions are seen in peripheral nerves, and the condition is thought to involve excessive activity of the neuromuscular spindle reflex arc. Adult cattle are affected at 3-7 yr of age. Extensor muscles of the back and pelvic limbs are affected, causing lumbar lordosis and caudal extension of the limbs. This condition is also thought to be familial and is usually progressive. Mephenesin (30-40 mg/kg, PO, for 2-3 days) may produce variable control of signs. Quadriceps muscle hypoplasia as a cause of congenital lameness has been described in Holstein calves. Reduced numbers of spinal cord motor neurons suggest that there is failure to innervate the muscle on the affected side. Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis is seen in Quarter Horses 2-3 yr old and is due to an inherited mutation of the sodium channel. It causes episodes of muscle tremor and sometimes recumbency, both of which may be precipitated by exercise. Hyperkalemia is usually present during an attack, and electromyography can also be helpful for diagnosis. Acetazolamide (0.5-2.2 mg/kg, PO,
and hydrochlorthiazide (0.5 mg/kg, PO,
lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. Myotonia congenita is an inherited/familial disorder in goats and Shropshire lambs and is occasionally seen in horses. It causes muscle rigidity; marked dimpling on percussion of the muscle belly; and a stiff, stilted gait. Electromyography is a useful aid to diagnosis. This disease results from a mutation in a chloride channel. Muscular dystrophy is an inherited disease in Merino sheep. It results in a slowly progressive stiffness that affects the limbs and neck from 3-4 wk of age onwards. Clinically affected sheep have high resting and postexercise concentrations of serum CK and lactic dehydrogenase. Porcine stress syndrome or malignant hyperthermia ( Malignant Hyperthermia :
Introduction) is a hypermetabolic and hypercontractile syndrome that, when triggered by anesthesia or stress, produces a sustained increase of intracellular calcium levels within skeletal muscle fibers. This in turn causes muscle stiffness, hyperventilation, hyperthermia, and pale exudative pork. It results from a mutation in a calcium-channel gene that is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, usually in Landrace pigs.