VETERINARSKI ARHIV 68 (6), 213-217, 1998

ISSN 0372-5480
Printed in Croatia

Prevalence, etiology, chemotherapy and control of Deg Nala disease in buffaloes and cattle in Pakistan

Azhar Maqbool1*, Muhammad Athar Khan2, Muhammad Yaqoob3, Ijaz Ahmad Khan3, Nadeem Badar1 and Fazal Mahamood3

1Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

2College of Veterinary Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan

3Department of Livestock and Dairy Development, Punjab, Pakistan

* Contact address:
Dr. Azhar Maqbool,
Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, House No. 20, Bilal Colony, Pakistan,
Phone: 92 41 302 81 89; Fax: 92 41 647 846

MAQBOOL, A., M. A. KHAN, M. YAQOOB, I. A. KHAN, N. BADAR, F. MAHAMOOD: Prevalence, etiology, chemotherapy and control of Deg Nala disease in buffaloes and cattle in Pakistan. Vet. arhiv 68, 213-217, 1998.


The prevalence, etiology, chemotherapy and control of Deg Nala disease were studied. The disease occurs in winter months when fungal infested rice straw is fed to cattle and buffaloes. Buffaloes are more frequently affected than cattle and younger animals appear to be more susceptible. The possibility of mycotoxin in causation of the disease is discussed. The most frequently found fungi species recorded from rice straw were: Aspergillus niger, Alternaria alternata, Fusarium avenaceum, Mucor hiemalis, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium fusarioides, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Aspergillus flavus and Penicillium notatum. A very low level of T2-toxins was recorded. Therapeutic trials with various drugs were carried out, with a mixture of Penta-sulphate giving the highest cure rate. Feeding of sodium hydroxide treated straw was an effective prevention.

Key words: Deg Nala disease, etiology, prevalence, chemotherapy, buffalo, Bubalus bubalis L., cattle, Pakistan


Deg Nala disease, which causes necrosis and gangrene of the dependent parts in cattle and buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis L.) is known to exist in Indo-Pakistan, as a number of cases were recorded stemming from a monsoon rainwater stream in the area of Murdike (Sheikhpura District), near Nala Deg in Pakistan (SHIRLAW, 1939). A widespread occurrence of the disease has been reported from rice growing areas of Indo-Pakistan (IRFAN, 1971; KALRA et al., 1972; IRFAN and MAQBOOL, 1986) which caused considerable economic losses. The aim of the present study was to record the prevalence and clinical picture of the disease at Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Gujrat and Siakolt districts of Pakistani Punjab, and also to conduct therapeutic trials with different drugs for the prevention and control of the disease.

Materials and methods

Prevalence. The outbreaks of Deg Nala disease occurring during 1993 through 1995 were recorded in 125 villages of Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Gujrat and Sialkot. The observation period during each year was from November to February.

Isolation of fungi. Samples of infested rice straw, containing multiple dark specks, were collected from areas where natural outbreaks of Deg Nala disase had been recorded. Isolation of fungi on potato dextrose agar, yeast soluble starch agar, Czapek's Dox agar, Sabouraud's agar and liquid media proceeded as per a published procedure (IRFAN and MAQBOOL, 1986).

Therapeutic trials. A total of 80 randomly selected naturally clinically affected animals were further divided in to 4 groups of 20 animals each. The following therapeutic regimens were tried.

Treatment A. A penta-sulphate mixture (Ferrous sulphate 166 g, copper sulphate 24 g, zinc sulphate 75 g, cobalt sulphate 15 g and magnesium sulphate 100 g ) at the rate of 60 g (1st day) orally, followed by 30 g daily for 10 days with a sufficient quantity of linseed and molasses. The lesions were washed with lukewarm water and dressed with nitroglycerin 2% ointment.

Treatment B. A single intramuscular injection of terramycin-LA (Pfizer; 200 mg oxytetracycline/ml) 20 mg/kg b.w. local treatment of lesions proceeded as in treatment A.

Treatment C. Only local treatment of lesions as in the treatment at A and B.

Treatment D. Daily oral administration of 2 g zinc sulphate for 10 days.

Experimental feeding on sodium hydroxide (NaOH)-treated rice straw. Trials were conducted on 40 animals. For this purpose, a 4% solution of NaOH (1 g/400 ml of water per 20 kg rice straw) was sprinkled on the rice straw containing multiple dark species daily for 14 days, beginning from the first week of December. Each of the 40 animals was fed 8-10 kg treated rice straw and 10-15 kg of green fodder daily for one month, depending upon the age and weight of the animals. The animals were examined daily and were kept under observation for a period of one-and-a-half months.

Detection of mycotoxins in rice-straw. Thin-layer gas chromatography was carried out for the separation and identification of mycotoxins (WARCUP, 1950). Biological tests on the skin of white rabbits were performed from extracts prepared from the infested rice straw (PATTERSON and ROBERTS, 1977).


Prevalence. During a three-year study period a total of 15,640 cases were recorded in 125 villages of the four districts. Of these 15,470 were buffaloes (Nili Ravi) and 170 were cattle (Sahiwal). Of the buffaloes which showed lesions, 11,545 were young, 3,925 adult; 9,655 were males and 5,815 were females. A total of 170 buffaloes has not been recorded. Of the 170 Sahiwal cattle which showed lesions, 139 were young, 31 adult; 134 were males and 36 were females. The disease was prevalent from November to February. The lesions developed only in cattle and buffaloes fed continuously on rice straw containing multiple dark specks.

Fungi isolated from infested rice straw. Although 22 different species of fungi were isolated from the samples of rice straw, the most frequently recorded were: Aspergillus niger, Alternaria alternata, Fusarium avenaceum, Mucor hiemalis, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium fusarioides, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Aspergillus flavus and Penicillium notatum.

Signs and lesions. Severe cases lingered for 1 to 2 months, but in others the wounds healed within a few weeks. The diseased animals were invariably weak. Ulcerative wounds and gangrene developed on the limbs and other dependent parts of the body. Almost all cases showed gangrene of the tail, which was shrivelled and cold to the touch. Invariably, one or both ears showed signs of dry gangrene. In some cases the muzzle and even the tip of the tongue became gangrenous and was shed. One or more hooves showed lesions in varying stages of development. In some cases the affected feet and legs were swollen up to the knee; hair was denuded and inflammatory changes set in. Later, wounds appeared on the coronet, fetlock, pastern, knee and in the hock region. In very advanced cases the lower regions of the feet become gangrenous. In some cases the hooves were shed and bones were exposed. The gangrenous portions of the tail, tips of the ears, tongue and other affected parts of the body, dropped off, although wounds healed in the course of time.

Therapeutic trials. The highest cure rate (90%) was observed with treatment A, followed by treatment B (70%). Treatments C and D (ointment alone and zinc sulphate) both had an identical cure rate of 60%.

Control measures. No lesions of Deg Nala disease occurred in animals fed on sodium hydroxide treated rice straw.

Analysis of straw for mycotoxins. No aflatoxin was detected in any sample of rice straw. Thin-layer gas chromatography from the extract of infested rice straw showed a very low level of T2-toxins. Biological tests from the extract of the infested rice straw on the ear skin of white rabbits showed slight inflammatory reactions, which persisted for up to 96 hours.


The disease is strongly associated with the feeding of rice straw containing multiple dark specks. This observation is concurs with the findings of earlier researchers (IRFAN and MAQBOOL, 1986) who reported that fungal infested straw and fungal mats of various species in different combinations, when mixed with fresh non-infested rice straw, produced the disease. Saprophytic fungi infesting rice straw produce mycotoxins possessing vasoconstriction, which produces the lesions of the disease (IRFAN et al., 1984). The greater severity of the disease in buffaloes as compared to that in cows may partly be due to the high susceptibility of this species. Therapeutic trials with an antidote (a penta-sulphate mixture) given orally, and a vasodilator (nitroglycerin ointment) applied locally on the lesions effected the highest percentage (90%) cure rate. This cure rate was in a broad agreement with the findings of SCHOENTAL (1980) who reported a cure rate of 80% with a penta-sulphate mixture. Secondary bacterial infections of the lesions were at least partially responsible for the severity of the disease. To address this complicating factor, long-acting Terramycin was injected parenterally, together with a local application of the vasodilating agent. This regimen (i.e., treatment B) effected a cure in 70% of treated animals. In treating gangrene and necrosis of the extremities (as in the case of Deg Nala disease) vasodilating agents have a beneficial role (BLOOD and RADOSTITS, 1989). Zinc sulphate administered orally effected a cure in 60% of the treated animals. The precise modus operandi of this treatment (i.e., treatment D) remains uncertain. Nonetheless, zinc offsets selenium toxicity, which some surmise to be the cause of Deg Nala disease (ARORA, 1980). The use of 4% NaOH treated rice straw proved beneficial for the prevention of Deg Nala disease, probably by virtue of its ability to check the growth of mycotoxin producing fungi. It is probable that none of the treatments tested in the present study had the ability to directly neutralise the mycotoxin. It would be of interest to test the efficacy of hydrated sodium calcium alumonosalicate (HSCAS) in the prevention of Deg Nala disease. This agent is a high affinity sorbent which can bind aflatoxins in the gastrointestinal tract and thus significantly reduce their intoxication (KHAJARERN et al., 1990).


ARORA, S. P. (1980): Use of radioactive selenium for studies on Deg Nala disease. J. Nuclear Agri. Biol. 9, 11-13.

BLOOD, D. C., O. M. RADOSTITS (1989): Veterinary Medicine, 7th ed. Bailliere Tindall. London.

IRFAN, M. (1971): The clinical picture and pathology of Deg Nala disease in buffaloes. Vet. Rec. 88, 422-424.

IRFAN, M., A. MAQBOOL (1986): Studies on Deg Nala disease in cattle and buffaloes. Pak. Vet. J. 6, 87-93.

IRFAN, M., A. MAQBOOL, M. ASHFAQUE (1984): Importance of moulds, fungi and mycotoxins in food and feeds. Pak. Vet. J. 4, 187-192.

KALRA, D. S., K. C. BHATIA, O. P. GAUTAM, M. V. S. CHAUHAN (1972): An obscure disease (possibly Deg Nala disease) in buffaloes and cattle. Studies on its epizootiolgy, pathology and etiology. Haryana Agri. Univ. J. Res. 2, 256-264.

KHAJARERN, J., S. KHAJARERN, C. RATANASETHAKUL (1990): Efficacy of hydrated sodium calcium aluminosalicilate (Novasil) on the bioavailibility of aflatoxins in the ducks. Proc. 7th Fed. Asian Vet. Assoc. Congress. Pattaya, Thialand.

PATTERSON, D. S. P., B. A. ROBERTS (1977): Mycotoxins in food and feed. Proceedings of second meeting on mycotoxins in animal disease. Aberdeen 1976 MAFF Pinner. p. 40.

SCHOENTAL, R. (1980): Save your animals from Deg Nala disease. J. Nuclear Agri. Biol. 92, 27-28.

SHIRLAW, J. E. (1939): Deg Nala disease of buffaloes. An account of the lesions and essential pathology. Indian Vet. Sci. Anim. Husb. 9, 853-864.

WARCUP, J. H. (1950): The soil plate method for isolation of fungi. Phytopath. 166, 177-178.

Received: 4 November 1996
Accepted: 26 October 1998

MAQBOOL, A., M. A. KHAN, M. YAQOOB, I. A. KHAN, N. BADAR, F. MAHAMOOD: Prosirenost, etiologija, kemoterapija i nadzor deg nala bolesti bivola i goveda u Pakistanu. Vet. arhiv 68, 213-217, 1998.


Istrazivani su prosirenost, etiologija, kemoterapija i kontrola deg nala bolesti u bivola i goveda. Bolest se pojavljuje tijekom zimskih mjeseci kad se goveda i bivoli hrane rizinom slamom zarazenom gljivicama. Bivoli su cesce zarazeni od goveda, a cini se da su mlade zivotinje osjetljivije. Iznesena je mogucnost da je mikotoksin uzrocnik bolesti. Najcesce utvrdene vrste gljivica nadene u rizinoj slami bile su: Aspergillus niger, Alternaria alternata, Fusarium avenaceum, Mucor hiemalis, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium fusarioides, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Aspergillus flavus i Penicillium notatum. Utvrdena je vrlo niska razina T2 toksina. Provedeno je lijecenje razlicitim lijekovima, a najvise izlijecenja postignuto je mjesavinom penta-sulfata. Dobra preventiva bilo je hranjenje zivotinja slamom prethodno obradenom natrijevim hidroksidom.

Kljucne rijeci: deg nala bolest, etiologija, preventiva, kemoterapija, bivol, Bubalus bubalis L., govedo, Pakistan