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Horse question
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Jim(MO)    Posted 10-20-2003 at 09:27:20       [Reply]  [No Email]
Had dinner with friends last Friday and he mentioned he had a curious problem with an older horse About 23 yrs old. A few weeks ago some swelling started in the chest area, spread down the front legs and now is spreading back towards the hind quarters. The horse is not showing any other symptoms and doesn't appear to be having any pain, just some difficulty moving about. Mark is 50 years old and been around horses all his life and has never seen anything like this. The 2 local vets, older man with lots of expierence and a younger vet with more up to date schooling and test equipment can't come to any conclusions. Both the parents of this horse were healthy and lived into their 30's. Mark also said he was aware of some kind of disease similar to this that causes swelling in the neck and difficulty breathing but so far this is not happening.

Promise Land Ranch    Posted 10-21-2003 at 06:38:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Just playing a hunch but have you had the vet check for Congestive Heart Failure? This causes edema in the lower extremities and body. We have had several dogs and and a steer with these same symptoms. I hope it isn't this.

Good Luck,


Linda in UT    Posted 10-20-2003 at 11:36:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
Have the vets check the horse Pigeon Fever, aka Dryland Distemper. We're currently in an outbreak of it in our area. Friends who ranch in New Mexico say it is common in their state, although this is the first time I've run into it. Our vet has seen it in years past in this area though.

My 23 year old gelding has had it for months now. The disease has nothing to do with pigeons. Rather, the swollen appearance of the horse's chest suggests the normal appearance of a pigeon's chest, hence the name.

The infection follows the pathways of the lymphatic system in the horse and results in deep abscesses. Although the swelling is most commonly seen in the chest, it can also be in the legs or other parts of the body. Antibiotics seem to prolong the progress of the disease, although we chose to try them. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have tried the antibiotics.

Lancing the abscesses if and when they are ready to be lanced, can help get the horse over the disease, but good old tincture of time is really about all that can be done.

The disease is thought to be spread by flies and possibly other flying insects, but that is not known for sure. The drainage from the abscesses is extremely contagious, thus we isolated our horse from the rest of our horses, in case his abscess broke. The catch 22 is that if flies spread the disease, then they could have flown from our horse to where our other horses reside. Friends who have had this disease have had it spread to all of their horses when they didn't isolate the infected horse. So far, my older horse is the only one with it, and he has lived for the summer in a portable pen up closer to the house. The exudate from the abscesses is extremely smelly, too, which gives a clue as to what's going on. It is recommended that when an abscess is lanced that a bucket be used to catch and dispose of the drainage.

The bacterium lives in the soil and the infections seem to show up more in dry, droughty years.

Most cases are of the external variety, although occasionally the disease does show up internally. When that happens the prognosis isn't as good.

The large amount of swelling in my horse tends to come and go now. The vet said the horse could still have abscesses in his chest, but he could also just have a temporary blockage of the lymphatic system. He said although one would think the lymphatic system would drain downward toward the heart, in a horse it actually drains upward toward the heart in the chest area and can easily become blocked from swelling.

Here's an excerpt from an article found during a google search for pigeon fever:

"One of the most commonly diagnosed bacterial problems in California (and several other western states) is dryland distemper, otherwise known as pigeon fever.

This disease is caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis and is seen worldwide. It usually is associated with very deep abscesses and multiple sores along the chest and midline."

Fortunately, my horse is doing very well, even though he still has swelling. He's out on a leased pasture with our cows and happy as a clam.

I hope this helps.

cowgirlj    Posted 10-20-2003 at 10:57:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I was thinking alergic reaction too. Did the vets take a blood sample? Could it be a spider bite or bee sting?

Paula    Posted 10-20-2003 at 10:01:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Could just be hives - an allergic reaction to something
the horse got into (is continually getting into). In that
case a little steroid and anithistamine might do the trick.

Hope its that simple.

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