Original Research

A review of pathological findings in impalas (Aepyceros melampus) in South Africa

Caroline Chu, Johan Steyl, Elizabeth C. du Plessis, Bjorn Reininghaus, Emily P. Mitchell
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 91 | a1965 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v91i0.1965 | © 2020 Caroline Chu, Johan Steyl, Elizabeth C. du Plessis, Bjorn Reininghaus, Emily P. Mitchell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 March 2019 | Published: 11 August 2020

About the author(s)

Caroline Chu, Zoological Pathology Program, University of Illinois, Chicago, United States; and, Charles River Laboratories, Senneville, Canada
Johan Steyl, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa
Elizabeth C. du Plessis, IDEXX Laboratories, Derdepoortpark, Pretoria, South Africa
Bjorn Reininghaus, Mpumulanga Veterinary Services, Nelspruit, South Africa
Emily P. Mitchell, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, National Zoological Garden, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Impalas (Aepyceros melampus) are common African antelope. A retrospective study was conducted of 251 impala cases from game farms, national parks and zoos submitted by veterinarians and pathologists in South Africa (2003–2016). Histopathology slides as well as records of macroscopic lesions and additional diagnostic tests performed were examined. Non-infectious conditions, such as acute pulmonary congestion and oedema, cachexia, traumatic injury and anaesthetic-related mortality were the most common causes of morbidity and mortality. Bacterial sepsis was the most common infectious disease, whilst skeletal muscle and myocardial sarcocystosis and verminous cholangitis and pneumonia were the most common parasitic diseases. Although the retrospective nature of this study limits the significance of the relative prevalence of lesions in the three locations, management decisions and diagnostic plans may be informed by the results. Impala from game farms had significantly more cachexia cases than those from other locations. Impala from zoos had significantly more lymphoid depletion than those from other locations. These findings suggest that nutrition and pasture management, enclosure design, management of intra- and interspecies aggression and improved anaesthetic protocols could improve animal welfare and survival of impala on game farms and in zoos. This report presents a detailed survey of diseases and conditions found in impala that provides baseline data for veterinary pathologists.

Keywords

Aepyceros melampus; disease; impala; parasites; pathology

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