Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Electrical burn injury

Synonym(s): Electric injury, Electric shock

Contributor(s): Sarah Pellett, Beatrice Funiciello

Introduction

  • Cause: electrocution from chewing live wires within the home environment. Electrocution by low voltage alternating current (AC) seen when animals bite into electrical cables.
  • Signs: if survives the initial electrocution, anorexia from oral burns and lesions around the oral cavity. Respiratory compromise as a result of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema, lethargy due to anorexia.
  • Diagnosis: lesions within the oral cavity.
  • Treatment: supportive care, analgesia, cleaning of the oral cavity, surgical debridement in severe cases.
  • Prognosis: depends on severity of the exposure.
Print off the Owner Factsheet on Electrical burn injury to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Severe tissue damage from biting through live electric cables.

Predisposing factors

Specific

  • Wires within the household environment.

Pathophysiology

  • Electrocution causes disruption of tissues and may cause muscle spasms, ventricular fibrillation and vasomotor changes in the central nervous system.
  • Acute pulmonary edema may develop.
  • Electrical energy transformed to heat causing tissue proteins coagulation.
  • Burns and soft tissue damage within the oral cavity.
  • First-degree burn causes red, slightly swollen and painful skin.
  • Second-degree burn there is damage to deeper tissues and blistering is seen.
  • Third-degree burns involve full thickness of the skin and part of the subcutaneous tissue resulting in the formation of escharotic crusts.

Timecourse

  • A first-degree burn usually heals within 2-5 days.
  • A second-degree burn (non-infected) is very painful and may heal in approximately 3+ weeks.

Epidemiology

  • Any rabbit has the tendency to chew wires.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedRource.
  • Johnson DH (2012) Emergency presentations of the exotic small mammalian herbivore trauma patient. J Ex Pet Med 21 (4), 300-315 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Hess L (2017) Electric Cord Bite Injury in Rabbits. Website: www.petmd.com.
  • Saunders R (2014) Husbandry. In: British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Manual of Rabbit Medicine. Eds: Meredith A & Lord B. BSAVA, UK. pp 13-26.
  • Jekl V (2013) The Dental Examination. In: British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Manual of Rabbit Surgery, Dentistry and Imaging. Eds: Harcourt-Brown F & Chitty J. BSAVA, UK. pp 337-348.
  • Mayer J & Donnelly T M (2013) Electrocution. In: Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. Eds: Mayer J & Donnelly T M. Saunders Elsevier, USA. pp 368-369.


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