Laminitis refers to inflammation and failure of the soft tissues that suspend the distal foot bone from the inner hoof wall. It may occur in individuals after any toxic infectious condition such as pneumonia or metritis, or after ruminal acidosis.
In the live export process, it is most likely ruminal acidosis that will cause multiple animals to be affected. Laminitis may become chronic if a single bout is severe or if overfeeding of high-energy diets is continued.
Acute laminitis begins with sudden onset of tenderness of one or more feet. In mild cases only the forefeet are affected. Usually, all four feet become hot and painful especially the coronets. There will be reluctance to walk or stand, shifting of weight and walking on knees.
The differential diagnosis is footrot which will have an established interdigital infection with under running and characteristic smell. Note that other problems like liver abscess and fungal rumenitis are also associated with ruminal acidosis.
Place acute cases on soft flooring on energy-restricted diet and keep moving but not excessively.
Pain relief using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (flunixin meglumine, or ketoprofen) can be provided to severely lame animals to prevent permanent recumbency. Careful paring of overgrown horn may also help relieve pain.
Preventing ruminal acidosis is the key to preventing laminitis.