Here’s to hoping column spreads knowledge wealth

After receiving some correspondence on the column I wrote on my mare regarding Pigeon Fever, I felt a follow up was necessary.

Here’s short review.

I discovered a large abscess on the side of my horse’s head that seemingly emerged overnight. After lancing the abscess, the veterinarian’s initial diagnosis was Pigeon Fever. I wrote that article based on his assumption before we received the laboratory results.

When the veterinarian called the next week, he explained his diagnosis was erroneous. The actual findings were what he called “Strep Zoo,” or the official medical term, streptococcus zooepidemicus.

He explained that this disease is closely related to streptococcus equi, commonly known as “Strangles,” but reassured me they were two completely different infections.

While both are bacterial infections, Strangles is highly contagious causing upper respiratory tract inflammation and nasal discharge. Lymph nodes under the jaw or near the throat often swell and can constrict airways and swallowing functions, ultimately strangling the horse. Thus, it has the name Strangles.

Typically, other symptoms of Strangles include a high fever, refusal to eat or drink and, in severe cases, can result in an infection of the central nervous system or the heart. Fatalities can occur in extreme cases.

While similar symptoms may occur with Strep Zoo, it is not contagious and usually does not develop into further complications.

Strep Zoo often effects the respiratory system but also can develop as a venereal infection causing sporadic abortions. Young foals diagnosed with Strep Zoo can suffer paralysis. The veterinarian explained my mare’s ailment as closely resembling strep throat in humans and prescribed antibiotics.

I administered the antibiotics as directed, a series of two vaccinations to be given three days apart. I cleaned the abscess daily and noticed a clear discharge from her eyes but otherwise she seemed to be feeling fine.

Her appetite, demeanor and attitude remained unchanged until about the third day after the last antibiotic injection.

As I went out to feed that morning, I noticed she was not moving very well. She walked gingerly over to her feed with her head hanging low. Her appetite was good, and she was not running a fever, but it was apparent something was wrong.

As with everything else that happens to this horse, all problems seems to migrate to her feet.

That was about the time we were experiencing all those rainy days and the ground was a muddy mess. As I started cleaning out her feet, it did not take long before I discovered the problem.

Thrush, another bacterial nuisance, had invaded all four feet within just a couple of days. Her frogs were flaky and crusty with black goo seeping out the sides.

The discharge from her abscess continued to ooze a yellow thick mucus leading me to speculate she still had an infection. While I realize abscesses can take a long time to heal, I opted for a proactive regiment to rid her body of the bacterial infection.

I immediately began thrush treatment and put her back on antibiotics. The farrier came out later in the week and while she had improved, her front feet were still quite sore.

I suspect she is suffering from laminitis in her front feet again. Her abscess is clearing up and the thrush has subsided but she continues to shuffle around. Unfortunately, only time can heal that condition.

I am sure many horse owners have plenty of stories to share about equine disorders. And I’m am hopeful the experiences I encounter with my mare can help others with similar situations.

My goal in writing these columns is to help educate folks on matters pertaining to the creatures that share our lives. I invite you to write me with your thoughts, ideas or unique situations to help spread knowledge relating to experiences with your best friends.

Charlé Thibodeau has been passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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