Sarcoids are nasty skin tumours which can affect donkeys of any age but tend to occur in younger animals and can frequently recur or be untreatable due to their size and location.
There is currently no prevention or absolute cure, but one of the treatments being advised for sarcoids is surgical removal using a cutting laser. Using this technique is thought to help reduce recurrence by killing any sarcoid cells that might remain in the tissue surrounding the lesion.
Bristol University have been very helpful by sending down Professor Henry Tremaine with his resident surgeon Millosz and their laser unit for an intensive day of sarcoid surgery on several occasions; we have managed as many as 7 donkeys in one day! The results were encouraging so with an ever increasing number of cases The Donkey Sanctuary decided to purchase our own laser enabling us to treat cases more quickly, thereby increasing the chance of a successful outcome.
Three donkeys with sarcoids were identified as needing laser treatment so they were bought to our veterinary hospital for surgery where Professor Derek Knottenbelt, an expert on sarcoids and their treatment, worked alongside our veterinary team providing advice on the correct use of the new machine. The theatre has been equipped with black-out blinds as light emitted from the laser can seriously damage the eyes unless special protective glasses are worn.
Having received training from Professor Knottenbelt, our own veterinary team can continue the hard work of treating donkeys with this challenging disease. However the most important job lies with the grooms who care for the animals on a daily basis, checking over the donkeys and monitoring any lumps and bumps. Early detection is vital to enable prompt treatment, which is more likely to be successful.
Further information on sarcoids can be found on our Donkey Health and Welfare page.