Two adult female rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) at the Dallas Zoo were confirmed with spontaneous diabetes mellitus from 1997–2000, whereas a third animal with a similar clinical presentation never became hyperglycemic. The pancreas in all three animals showed pancreatic islet fibrosis (PIF). Retrospective examination of medical records for rock hyraxes acquired by this collection or born into it from 1991–2002 identified eight more animals affected with PIF. All affected animals, including three males and eight females, were 1–7 yr of age and presented either with vague clinical signs of soft feces and rough hair coat or were acutely moribund or dead. Clinical pathology data was available for seven of the animals before onset of overt clinical signs and revealed inappropriate hyperglycemia in six, as well as elevated serum concentrations of creatine phosphokinase, amylase, and lipase in all seven animals. Pedigree evaluation did not support a familial pattern for PIF. Review of the histopathology findings from nine other zoologic collections with rock hyrax deaths during the study period identified six institutions with 12 additional cases genetically unrelated to the incident collection. Histopathology and viral serology did not support an infectious cause. Analysis of serum anti-islet and anti-insulin antibodies did not suggest autoimmune disease, and none of the animals had known exposure to toxic substances. Limited nutritional analyses did not support a nutritional basis for the condition, and the cause for PIF remains unknown.
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Vol. 35 • No. 3