Anatomic Description and Pathologic Findings of Chronic Foot Rot with Severe Secondary Osteomyelitis in a Rothschild’s Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
Andrés Alejandro Castro1, DVM; Benjamin E. Alcantar2, DVM; Susanne Stieger-Vanegas3, DVM, PhD, DECVDI; Rob Bildfell4, DVM, DACVP
1National University of Colombia, Bogotá DC, Colombia; 2Wildlife Safari, Winston, OR, USA; 3Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA; 4Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA


A 22-year-old, male Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) presented with chronic intermittent forelimb lameness. An ulcerative pododermatitis that was not responsive to topical treatment and periodic hoof trimming had progressed to chronic laminitis and foot rot. This was characterized by severe overgrowth with deformation and odorous bleeding ulcers of the left front foot (LF), as well as a soft hemorrhagic lesion on the palmar aspect of the right front foot (RF). Monthly radiographs had documented a progressive bone lysis of the medial digit and changes in conformation of the distal phalanx of the LF. Euthanasia was elected due to the poor prognosis and concerns of quality of life. Computed tomography (CT) images of the disarticulated distal forelimbs revealed severe chronic osteolysis and deformation of the distal phalanx of the medial digit of the LF, severe subchondral lysis of distal and middle phalanx adjacent to the distal interphalangeal joint. Osseous remodeling of the navicular bone including the flexor surface was present with adjacent minimal thickening and alteration of the deep digital flexor tendon of the medial digit of the LF. Dissection confirmed CT findings, including extensive necrosis and bone loss of P3, multiple cavitations involving the margins of the second phalanx and the navicular bone, and fistulous tracts extending parallel to the sole of LF. Foot rot has not been extensively described in giraffes and represents a big challenge for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.1-4 Future studies are needed to establish the inflammatory mechanisms involved in foot lesions in giraffes.


The authors thank the ungulate staff at the Wildlife Safari for their excellent work and commitment. Also, we thank Dr. Kirsten Thomas, Dr. Berta Blanch, and the veterinary students Anna Champagne, Tina Welsh, Carolynn, Chelsea Wolf, and Whitney White for their support and collaboration. A special thanks also to the radiology department of Oregon State University for performing the CT foot images.

Literature Cited

1.  Dadone L, Han S, Foxworth S, Klaphake E, Johnston MS, Barrett MF. Diagnosis and management of pedal osteitis and pedal fractures for a large heard of reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata). Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet. 2014:104.

2.  Fowler M. Hoof problems in zoo animals. Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet. 1978:88–106.

3.  Wakeman KA, Sanchez CR, Lung NP, Hersman J, Barrett MF. The use of magnetic resonance imaging to better define hoof pathology in the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2014;45:668–671.

4.  Zuba JR. Hoof disorders in nondomestic Artiodactylids. In: Miller RE, Fowler ME, eds. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine Current Therapy. Vol. 7. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2012:619–627.


Speaker Information
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Andrés Alejandro Castro, DVM
National University of Colombia
Bogotá DC, Colombia

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