Published On: Wed, Aug 22nd, 2012

Rare white buffalo dies from blackleg according to veterinarian

The rare and sacred white buffalo who died in May named Lightning Medicine Cloud, died from a lethal bacterial  infection according to veterinarians and was not the victim of a hate crime as originally speculated by it’s owner.

Lightning Medicine Cloud

You Tube Screen Shot

Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said a veterinarian made the determination and that photographs indicate the calf wasn’t skinned. He said the investigation is closed unless new evidence surfaces.

“Officials obtained what evidence was available and consulted with a veterinarian in reference to the manner of death,” Meeks said. “We conducted a thorough investigation, interviewed over 25 people and looked at every angle in this matter such as hate crimes, vengeance, hunters, etc.”

According to an Associated Press report, Arby Little Soldier, owner of the ranch near Greenville, reported finding the calf skinned and believed it had been killed as part of a hate crime.

Also on Tuesday, investigators said two other calves died of similar infections after the passing of Lightning Medicine Cloud.

The calf was named Lightning Medicine Cloud — a reference to the thunderstorm that marked the arrival of his birth as well as a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933 named Big Medicine.

Buffalo woman, the mother of Lightning Medicine Cloud was found dead a day after the calf’s death.

According to Lakota Sioux lore, the goddess of peace once appeared in the form of a white buffalo calf.

What is Blackleg?

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual:

Blackleg is an acute, febrile disease of cattle and sheep caused by Clostridium chauvoei characterized by emphysematous swelling, usually in the heavy muscles (clostridial myositis). It is found worldwide.

C. chauvoei is found naturally in the intestinal tract of animals. Spores remain viable in the soil for many years and are purported to be a source of infection. Outbreaks of blackleg have occurred in cattle on farms in which recent excavations have occurred or after flooding. The organisms probably are ingested, pass through the wall of the GI tract, and after gaining access to the bloodstream, are deposited in muscle and other tissues (spleen, liver, and alimentary tract) and may remain dormant.

In cattle, blackleg infection is endogenous, in contrast to malignant edema.  Lesions develop without any history of wounds, although bruising or excessive exercise may precipitate some cases. Commonly, the animals that contractblackleg are of the beef breeds, in excellent health, gaining weight, and usually the best animals of their group. Outbreaks occur in which a few new cases are found each day for several days. Most cases are seen in cattle from 6–24 mo old, but thrifty calves as young as 6 wk and cattle as old as 10–12 yr may be affected. 

Usually, onset is sudden, and a few cattle may be found dead without premonitory signs. Acute, severe lameness and marked depression are common. Initially, there is a fever but, by the time clinical signs are obvious, body temperature may be normal or subnormal. Characteristic edematous and crepitant swellings develop in the hip, shoulder, chest, back, neck, or elsewhere. At first, the swelling is small, hot, and painful. As the disease rapidly progresses, the swelling enlarges, there is crepitation on palpation, and the skin becomes cold and insensitive with decreased blood supply to affected areas. General signs include prostration and tremors. Death occurs within 12–48 hr. In some cattle, the lesions are restricted to the myocardium and the diaphragm.

Terry Hensley, a Texas A&M extension office veterinarian, said a blackleg vaccine is available for cattle but has not been approved for buffalo. Some experts say the cattle vaccine has been effective in buffalo, Hensley said.

See video news report of Lightning Medicine Cloud’s birth





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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63


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