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Anyone heard of this condition in horses?-- *UPDATE*

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by michickenwrangler, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    The trainer/owner at the stable I board at asked to borrow my horse trailer to take a horse to the vet. The horse is a 20 month old TWH gelding in for 90 days training. He doesn't belong to anyone at the stable. He's been coughing up a smelly mucous and the trainer decided to take him in for a scan. She came back just as I was finishing up with my horse today. The gelding has an abcess in his chest on the outside of the lungs. She said that the cheap way to treat him would be to find the abcess, lance and drain it and then put him on antibiotics. Unfortunately, (for some reason) normal antibiotics can't be used and he would need to be put on some experimental drug that carries a chance of fatal reaction. The expensive way would be to surgically excise the abcess followed by a year recovery and also on the experimental antibiotics. The owner said he needs to speak with the vet but he's leaning toward euthanasia as the procedures run a min. of $3,000 plus transport and stabling at the vet hospital at Michigan State U. It's sad but I'm just curious about this if anyone has heard of or experienced anything like this.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010

  2. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I would definitely suggest that they get a second opinion. I've never heard of an internal abscess like that in a horse, but I've seen a fair share of external abscesses. Draining the external ones usually clears them right up. I would imagine the location of this abscess would be difficult to find, especially since it is on such a vital organ.

    Anyways, a second opinion would be the best route before making any decisions like euthanasia. Another vet might find something different or there may be a cheaper alternative. There is something at the back of my mind that has smelly mucous as a symptom....I can't quite recall it though. Thrush of the mouth maybe? I don't understand why the horse would be caughing up mucous like that if the abscess is on the outside of the lung.
  3. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    Sounds fishy to me. I would opt for a second opinion. Internal abscesses are not abscess per se', they can materialize for very different reasons than external abscesses. Reccomend a second opinion rather than putting the horse down right off the bat.

    Here are some articles for you to review:

    Internal Abscess in Horses: What it is and what to do about it
    By Dr. Frank Santos DVM

    The condition diagnosed as an “internal abscess” is that of a chronic walled-off infection usually located in a horse’s abdomen or chest cavity. The general symptoms that a horse with this condition presents with are weight loss, less than a normal appetite and general malaise.

    Occasionally, some of these horses are noticed to have a compromised way of moving. They just aren’t “themselves,” the owner says. On initial examination, some of these horses will have a low-grade fever (i.e., 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning instead of 99-100).

    When I see a horse with these general symptoms and no other obvious reason for them, I will take a blood sample for what is termed an inflammatory hemogram. The results will tell me if the horse is suffering from a chronic infection.

    One specific thing to look for in the blood is a rise in the total white blood-cell count. The type of white blood cell that goes up is also important. The neutrophil is the white cell that rises in the face of chronic infection. The horse will also often be slightly anemic (with a lower than normal red blood-cell count) due to suppression of the bone marrow by toxic products of chronic infection.

    Fibrinogen is a plasma protein that goes up with chronic inflammation and can be an indicator of the size or activity of the walled-off infection. Oftentimes, the history and results of the blood count are all one has to go on to make the diagnosis and initiate treatment. With high-tech ultrasonography or radiology one can sometimes image the lesion in the chest or abdomen.

    Treatment is based on long-term antibiotic therapy with periodic blood tests to measure the response. By long-term therapy, I mean at least one month, but perhaps longer depending on the response. I usually treat these horses orally with a drug like Trimethoprim sulfa, sometimes supplemented with a drug called rifampin that aids in penetrating the capsule that builds up around these abscesses.

    I prefer the oral route of treatment when possible to avoid the problems associated with injections daily for that length of time. These lesions have taken a long time to develop and will take a lengthy treatment period to resolve.

    The general theory is that these lesions can start by an episode of bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream) that can and does occur from time to time. If you have enough resilient bacteria that filter out in an internal lymph node, they can colonize, reproduce and form the nidus of the infection. It doesn’t make the horse noticeably ill initially, but as the lesion grows and produces more toxins, the symptoms I described become evident.



    Dr. W. David Wilson
    Director of Large Animal Clinical Services
    Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California-Davis



    Another concern is Pigeon Fever which presents as external or internal abscesses and limb infections. It is highly contagious and often misdiagnosed. Here is info on that:


    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  4. joletabey

    joletabey SDWD!!!!

    Apr 9, 2009
    western NC
    I agree- get a second opinion-
  5. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    Unfortunately, it's too late. He was put down yesterday. His owner said he was constantly sick as a foal but he still hoped to turn him into a pleasure riding horse. That will never happen now. He was a sweet little gelding.

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