CASE REPORT AND CLINICAL REVIEW
Vertebral fractures in two alpaca crias with rickets syndrome
Two dark-coloured alpaca crias aged 5 and 5.5 months, respectively, born in September in the Pacific Northwest, USA, were presented for evaluation of acute recumbency.
Both crias had cervical spine fractures and one had additional fractures in other locations within the spine. Both crias had valgus deformities of the forelimbs and one had similar deformities of the hindlimbs. Both crias showed characteristic radiological signs of rickets syndrome, including wide, irregular physes, cupping of the metaphyses, bowing of long bones, pathological fractures and enlarged costochondral junctions.
One cria responded clinically to treatment with parenteral administration of vitamin D. The other cria was euthanased because of the multiple spinal fractures and postmortem examination supported the diagnosis of rickets syndrome.
Hypovitaminosis D is associated with abnormal bone formation in young growing animals. The clinical and laboratory findings of rickets syndrome in camelids in the Pacific Northwest, and other regions with low annual sunlight exposure, have been described, although there are only few reports of the radiological signs associated with this condition in camelids and other animals. Additionally, vertebral fractures have not been previously reported in animals with rickets syndrome. Because vertebral fractures were identified in both crias in this report, it suggests that this is a common and clinically important manifestation of the disease in alpaca crias. Hence, in geographic regions with low sunlight exposure, rickets syndrome should be considered as a differential diagnosis in crias presenting with clinical signs consistent with vertebral fracture.