Onchocerca spp.

Suspensory ligament desmitis caused by onchocerca sp. in three donkeys

Three donkeys were presented with progressive lameness and distal suspensory ligament breakdown in multiple limbs. Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was only partially effective and eventually the donkeys were euthanized due to further progression of the lameness and concerns for their welfare. At necropsy, the distal part of the suspensory ligaments in multiple limbs, including the suspensory ligament branches, was markedly thickened, enlarged, and mottled white and brown on cut section. In one case, adult Onchocerca sp. nematodes were grossly identified embedded within the suspensory ligaments. Histopathologic examination revealed chronic, multifocal to coalescing, moderate to severe, lymphoplasmacytic, eosinophilic, and fibrosing desmitis and tendinitis with intralesional, coiled adult nematodes of Onchocerca sp., accompanied by osseous and cartilaginous metaplasia. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first histopathologic description of suspensory ligament desmitis and tendinitis associated with Onchocerca sp. in donkeys.

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