This section is from the book "The Farmers Ready Reference Or Hand Book Of Diseases Of Horses And Cattle", by S. C. Orr. . Also available from Amazon: The Farmer's Ready Reference;.
This is an affection of the brain and spinal cord and, although many different theories have been written in explanation of its origin, pathology and treatment, nothing very satisfactory has ever been reached It generally attacks only the best milkers, and the best in flesh. It comes on within four or five days after calving, the earlier, the more likely it is to be fatal.
Symptoms. - First there will be a slight unsteadiness in walking; the patient will lie down, then get up again, showing uneasiness; there will be constipation and scanty urine. The symptoms may come on very rapidly and in a short time there will be paralysis of the hind quarters and inability to rise when down; the head will be thrown around to the side and there will be a snoring sound in the breathing, and in time the animal will become unconscious.
Treatment. - I have tried every remedy that I have ever seen prescribed in books or medical journals and the only one that has given any satisfaction is as follows: As soon as possible after the attack begins to come on give six drachms each of chloral hydrate and bromide of potassium dissolved in one pint of water, and, each two hours thereafter, give a dose of four drachms each of the chloral and potassium until three more doses are given, then gradually diminish the dose each time and also lengthen out the time between the doses. Great care must be exercised to prevent choking while drenching, and just as soon as swallowing is done readily a dose of Epsom salt, sufficient to open the bowels, should be given. Plenty of drinking water should be given at all times, and a little nourishing food as soon as the animal will eat. The animal should be rolled over occasionally and be kept well bedded. Cloths wet in cold water should also be kept on the head for the first day or two.