Cauda Equina Neuritis in a Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
Trevor T. Zachariah1,2, DVM, MS; Natalie D. Mylniczenko3, MS, DVM; Jennifer N. Langan2,3, DVM, DACZM; Erika K. Stapp2, BS; Karen A. Terio2,4, DVM, PhD, DACVP
1Chicago Zoo and Aquatic Animal Veterinary Residency Program, Chicago, IL, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA; 3Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL, USA; 4University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program, Maywood, IL, USA


A 12-year-old, female Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) presented with inappetence, lethargy, and perineal swelling and pruritis of one day’s duration. Tenesmus and urine dribbling were noted within 2 days. Antibiotic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine therapies were initiated with little to no clinical improvement. Immobilization and examination revealed impacted feces in the colon and a markedly distended, atonic bladder. Attempts to manage the atonic bladder with indwelling catheters and medical management were unsuccessful. Due to continued anorexia and lethargy, and poor prognosis, the tapir was euthanatized 19 days after initial presentation. Necropsy findings included a flaccid, distended bladder and urethra, and distended colon and rectum. Histologically, there was inflammation within the cauda equina and lumbar nerve roots consistent with cauda equina neuritis. No other causes for neurologic signs were found, and testing for potential infectious etiologies (e.g., Sarcocystis neurona, West Nile virus, and equine encephalitis virus) was negative.


The authors would like to thank the pachyderm animal care staff at Brookfield Zoo for their help with this case.


Speaker Information
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Trevor T. Zachariah, DVM, MS
Chicago Zoo and Aquatic Animal Veterinary Residency Program
Chicago, IL, USA

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