Pregnancy toxemia is a deadly disease that is contracted while an animal/human is in the birthing process. Toxemia is also known as ketosis and causes the animal to become very lethargic and often times, causes them to not eat, which is fatal for someone/something before, after, or during birth. Ketosis usually develops in the last few weeks of gestation because the fetus goes through over 70% of its growth during this period of time. In the case of ewes, the disease is not easily observed with a ewe carrying 1 fetus, but is very visible with a ewe carrying twins or triplets. Ketosis is caused by a lack of food intake and causes the kidney and liver to output ketones or ketone bodies. The ketones cause a sweet smell to the breath and urine of the animal. When an animal is approaching birth, the body uses glucose to produce milk and when the body can’t produce glucose anymore, it puts out ketones which cause the animal to basically become diabetic. Toxemia is not a contagious disease but usually when an animal in a flock has it, there is a high chance that the other animals may have it because toxemia is caused by poor feed management. In most cases when an animal has toxemia, the animal can’t be treated and usually ends up dying, as well as the fetuses. The mother usually always dies but its offspring can sometimes be saved by a C-section, but most of the time ends up dying due to the lack of colostrum, which is the key to every animal’s immune system. To prevent the deadly disease, the owner just needs to simply watch more closely what his/hers animals are eating and how much. In the case of the ewe here at the ag-center, her death was caused by being too fat, and then not even eating before the delivery of its lambs. Toxemia can be easily prevented if you watch more closely what and how much your animals are eating.
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