Diagnosis by Process of Elimination

Kroni is still sick. We don’t yet know what is making him ill, but we’ve been able to eliminate a few things. He does not have Lyme or Erlychiosis. That would explain why the antibiotics did not address all of his symptoms. In contrast, my Westie looked practically as good as new after just two doses of doxy.

He does not have Equine Herpes Virus (EHV), also ruled out by the blood work. That’s certainly good news because EHV sounds like a nasty virus which is highly contagious. The description below is excerpted from “Equine Herpes Virus will Bring Down Your Barn.

Many horse owners don’t know that there are at least four types of Equine Herpesvirus. The ones that we associate the most are EHV-1 and EHV-4. EHV-1 is the most prevalent and often the most destructive to the horse. EHV-1 causes severe respiratory problems, abortion in mares and neurological disease. EHV-4 causes upper respiratory infection only. Most horses, however, contract EHV-1 and is it usually first diagnosed by runny noses, fevers, coughs and broodmares that are aborting.

The neurological disease of EHV-1 is a mutant strain and has caused many stables and racetracks to have to be quarantined around the country. The University of Findley in Ohio has reported the most devastating outbreak of EHV-1 where one-third of the schools 140 horses displayed the neurological symptoms in 2003. Twelve of the horses died from the disease.

Once the virus has infected the horse, the horse will be a lifelong carrier. This is very similar to the herpes diseases found in humans. The horses may no longer show signs of being ill, but they will continue to shed the virus, especially during times of high stress. The horses sporadic shedding of the disease is often considered the cause of many outbreaks that occur randomly. Many veterinarians believe that nearly three-quarters of the equine population are thought to be carriers of the EHV-1 non-neurological form of the virus.

The disease is spread by infected horses through their respiratory secretions. Horses can contract the disease through nose-to-nose contact, sharing buckets, bits, lip chains and even on handlers. Once the virus has made it into the horse, the virus travels through the bloodstream. The early symptoms include nasal discharge and a slight increase in temperature. The fever does not remain consistent, so if you believe that your horse is showing symptoms, you will want to check their temperature every six hours. The nasal discharge will begin clear, but will turn to thick and milky. Your veterinarian can obtain swabs of the discharge and blood samples to test for the disease.

If the horse is infected with the neurological strain, the horse will begin to show symptoms in six to twelve days. The initial progression of the disease may happen quickly and within 24 to 72 hours. Fevers are generally over 102 degrees Fahrenheit and other symptoms include the nasal discharge, depression and loss of appetite. The first neurological symptoms may begin in the hindquarters and may include toe dragging, a floppy tail, incontinence and weakness in the hind legs. Eventually, the horse will not be able to stand. If the horse is down for more than twenty-four hours, it is not likely that they will survive the infection.

But he is still sick. His neurological signs continue and he is very body sore. He is still unable to eat off of the ground because his neck is so stiff; I have to put his feed tub on a stool for him to eat! Luckily, I have hay racks so he is able to eat hay to his heart’s content.

Last night the vet performed acupuncture on him and that has given him some relief. Immediately he perked up and wanted to move. This continued through my late night check and into this morning. It certainly made me feel better to see him respond! He’s been shifted to a new medication for his aches and pains, Equiox, and he’s now on Ulcer Guard to counteract any ill effects from the Doxy. Right now his temp is normal and I am cautiously optimistic. I hope that he continues to improve.

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