Potential treatment found for Drunken Lamb Syndrome

A NEW study funded by the Wales-based red meat promotion agency, Hybu Cig Cymru, has identified a potential treatment for a fatal disease that makes lambs appear “drunk”.

Drunken Lamb Syndrome - so called because affected lambs demonstrate a lack of voluntary co-ordination of muscle movement giving the impression of being drunk - is not widespread and its cause as yet remains unknown.

It is fatal to lambs, with death thought to be caused by an increase in acidity and potassium levels in the animal’s body leading to renal failure.

But now work undertaken in North Wales by a team of experts led by Joseph Angell, of Wern Vets, has found that solutions of sodium bicarbonate may be a cheap and effective treatment for the disease.

“Funding for the project allowed studies to be undertaken on farms in North Wales in a bid to identify the cause of drunken lamb syndrome,” says HCC’s project executive, Dewi Hughes.

“Although the disease is not widespread, it can be fatal for lambs with no successful treatment having been identified until now.

“The study has shown that treatment may be possible using solutions of sodium bicarbonate and while further research is needed to confirm the cause and treatment, it has opened the door to a potentially cheap and effective way to treat the disease,” he added.

North Wales was used as the study base following recurrent problems with the disease in younger lambs.

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