Lumpy Jaw in Macropods

Lumpy Jaw in Macropods

What is it?
This term is used to describe infection of the soft tissues and jawbone in marsupials. The highest risk group of marsupials to Lumpy Jaw are macropods.

What are the signs?

  •     Hard immovable swellings on the jaw and face.
  •     White coloured pus discharging through holes in the skin.
  •     Difficulty in eating and slobbering.
  •     Weight loss and tiredness.

How dose it happen?
As the animals eat, bacteria accumulates around the teeth.  This can be seen as hard brown scale on teeth called tartar.  These bacteria can infect the gums through cuts in the mouth.  Following this the infection can spread into the soft tissue like muscle, tendons and tissues that surrounds bone.  This type of infection in called an abscess.
The next step from here is infection of the bone. This is called osteomyelitis. Bone infections are bad news.  People with bone infections with unlimited money for treatments and medicines can sometimes take years to heal.

Can it be treated?
If an abscess can be lanced and antibiotics started there is a good chance the wound will heal up completely. It is best to investigate masses on the jaw as soon as you notice them.   If the disease becomes worse and the bone is infected it can be very difficult to kill all the bacteria.  Even if the animal is cured some animals are left with a swelling on the jaw. In bad outbreaks infected animals may be euthanased to avoid contamination of the paddocks and infection of other animals.

How to avoid it?
Feed a diet with the appropriate amount of roughage in it.  Feed macropods diets that contain items that they have to chew (eg. hay, lucerne and branches). This cleans their teeth doing as they eat. Avoid diets that allow the food to pack in around the teeth (ie lots of pellets and little else).
Other causes for lumpy jaw is poor hygiene and over crowding.  Avoid feeding your animals in places soiled with faeces.  If you have an animal with a discharging lump on it’s jaw separate it from the rest of your mob.