A response of wild animals–including partially domesticated deer and elk–to stressors in the environment which trigger the “fight or flight” response and short-term endogenous release of adrenaline/epinephrine from the adrenal cortex. If the stressors continue, the animal’s pituitary releases ACTH. Prolonged ACTH release leads to adrenal exhaustion and increased susceptibility to disease and death.
Capture myopathy causes muscle degradation due to stressful activities, including pursuit, but can occur during physical and chemical restraint. It is seen in most animals, but especially in ungulates and has been reported in birds and fish.
Clinical findings Sudden death within 24 hours, depression, rapid shallow breathing, and failure to recover from anaesthesia. Death can occur after several hours of symptoms, or from cardiac arrest, either at the time, or at the next stressful event due to heart damage. Other symptoms include stiffness or lameness, swollen muscles and myoglobinuria leading to kidney damage.
Risk factors Fear, anxiety, hyperthermia, excess adrenaline, selenium and vitamin E deficiency
Management There is no treatment; prevention is critical; minimise the time of restraint; use long lasting tranquilisers for animal relocation, prolonged handling or immobilisation.
Synonyms Exertional myopathy, white muscle disease, wild animal myopathy