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Written by a Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians course graduate.  Author’s name available upon request.  Signed release obtained from client/author/4997.

History Presentation:

A 6 year old female Katahdin sheep presented with a history of cough with exercise.  She is maintained in a herd of 11 ewes and their lambs. She lambed healthy twins uneventfully 6 weeks prior.  No other sheep in the herd have shown any respiratory symptoms and all appear healthy.  Long-term history was not known as they were purchased already bred 5 months prior to presentation.

Physical Examination and Clinical Assessments:

The ewe was in good body condition upon presentation, as were her lambs.  No coughing was evident with normal activity. Mild nasal discharge seen in both nostrils. Auscultation showed no murmur and only mild wheezing.  No lameness or other abnormalities noted.  She did produce a dry cough with exercise.  Owner opted out of diagnostics at this time and wanted to see if acupuncture treatments helped.  Myofascial exam showed some sensitivity at BL 13 and 17 as well as some tension along caudal cervical mm.  

Medical Decision Making:

Physical examination seemed consistent with a chronic respiratory syndrome; infectious, inflammatory or cardiac causes could not be ruled out without further diagnostics.  Blood work, radiographs and ultrasound of the heart and lungs were recommended.  Acupuncture points were chosen to address inflammation and lower respiratory disease.

Acupuncture treatment:

A total of three acupuncture treatments were done, each a week apart.  Points were chosen to mainly address the lower respiratory tract and any potential inflammatory process involved.  Patient was unused to handling, so fewer points were used to limit time handled and hopefully limit stress associated with the session.  GV 14 was placed for parasympathetic effects and potential local respiratory input. BL 12, 13 for respiratory effects and BL 15 for any heart involvement. Patient was in a head gate for the first treatment so access to LU 1 was limited. No head gate was used for the following treatments and LU 1 was accessed and used for respiratory effects.  LI 11 for anti-inflammatory effects.

Outcomes, Discussions and References:

Owner reported some improvement in cough after each session, cough still present but much less frequently noted.  During the second and third sessions, the patient gave a single deep cough and some mucous was discharged. Owner noted even more improvement after these sessions, no coughing for several days.

Although a full diagnostic work up was not done at this time, it was still demonstrated to me that acupuncture could be a safe and effective adjunct treatment in lower respiratory disease.

Acupuncture has been used in lower respiratory disease in both humans and animals with varying degrees of effect. The varying results reported with treatments in itself points to the need for further investigations into the subject and hopefully would result in further validating the use of such treatments in similar cases.

McCarney RW, Brinkhaus B, Larsson TJ, Linde K.  Acupuncture for chronic asthma. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2003; July 21.

Wilson DV, Lankenau C, Berney CE, et al. The effect of a single acupuncture treatment in horses with severe recurrent airway obstruction. Equine Vet J. 2004; 36(6): 489-94.

Tangjitjareon W, Shmalberg J, Colahan PT, Xie H. Equine Acupuncture Research: An Update. J Equine Vet Sci. 2009; 29(9): 698-709.