Management of Severe Bilateral Chronic Superficial Keratitis (Pannus) in an African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Sarah M. Churgin1,2, DVM; Melanie L. Church3, DVM; Alexandra Goe1, DVM; Julie Swenson1, DVM; Gary West1, DVM, DACZM

1Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, AZ, USA; 2Department of Surgical Sciences, Special Species Health Service, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA; 3Eye Care for Animals, Phoenix, AZ, USA


A 5-yr-old, intact male African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) developed progressive ocular lesions and blindness caused by bilateral severe ulcerative chronic superficial keratitis (pannus). Oral prednisone (1 mg/kg p.o. b.i.d.) and cyclosporine (3.5 mg/kg p.o. s.i.d.) resulted in partial improvement, including return of vision. Topical medications were not feasible due to temperament. The patient was later anesthetized for insertion of subconjunctival sustained- release cyclosporine implants (10% cyclosporine/silicone matrix, Lux Biosciences, Inc., Jersey City, New Jersey, USA) o.u. in the dorsal bulbar conjunctiva. Oral medications were discontinued following surgery. The patient remained visual and comfortable after implant placement. However, a 6-mo follow-up examination revealed that the o.d. cyclosporine implant was migrating out of the conjunctival pocket. It was repositioned in a new, more lateral pocket. The o.s. implant remained in place, but the cornea was diffusely pigmented and fibrotic. Neither eye was actively inflamed, but the cyclosporine implants alone were no longer controlling disease. Oral prednisone was reinitiated (0.5 mg/kg p.o. b.i.d.), and a cyclosporine misting spray (20 mg/ml, Civic Center Pharmacy, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA) was compounded for topical administration (o.u. b.i.d.).

The use of sustained-release cyclosporine implants has been described previously for treatment of keratoconjunctivitis sicca in a red wolf (Canis rufus).1 Pannus has not been previously described in African wild dogs, and the species’ aggressive temperament makes management challenging. A multimodal therapy including cyclosporine implants, oral medications, and topical drugs may be required.


The authors wish to thank the Carnivore-Primate staff at the Phoenix Zoo for their care and diligence in treating this patient, and the veterinarians and staff at Eye Care for Animals for donating their valuable expertise, time, and equipment to this case and other patients at the Phoenix Zoo.

Literature Cited

1.  Acton, A.E., A.B. Beale, B.C. Gilger, and M.K. Stoskopf. 2006. Sustained release cyclosporine therapy for bilateral keratoconjunctivitis sicca in a red wolf (Canis rufus). J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 37:562–564.


Speaker Information
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Sarah M. Churgin, DVM
Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix, AZ, USA

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