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Discussion on Not a torn pectoral muscle after all - Pigeon Fever

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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 9
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 - 7:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I just got a call from my vet telling me my horse that had been diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle almost 6 weeks ago cultured positive for Pigeon Fever. He did the culture after there was drainage coming from the front of his chest about 8 days ago. Even then he thought the drainage was from blood clots and seroma from the excessive bruising of the torn muscle he did the culture as a precaution. I live in central IL where apparently Pigeon Fever is very uncommon but I have to say I'm a little irritated by the incorrect initial diagnosis. Regardless, I have not been taking any contagion precautions since I had no idea I needed to be. What should I do to safeguard my other 4 horses? I had moved some of the old bedding from this horse's stall to one of the other ones last week which I wish I had not done. I plan to strip that stall now but should I also disinfect it? What else should I do? The article suggests monitoring WBC count and figrinogen but my vet did not suggest that. Is there anything I can test on my other horses to see if they have contracted it before it gets too far along?

Thanks for any advice.
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Judy Henslee
Member
Username: judyhens

Post Number: 225
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 9:59 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We are in Texas dealing with the same thing in a few horses in our herd. Until the abscess(es) rupture, I don't believe that isolation is critical. I don't think it is contagious horse to horse, but requires a vector (like flies) or contamination of an abrasion or open sore. Our vet suggested what Dr. O said - no antibiotics initially. The initial swelling looked like trauma. We have the most affected horse on bute and are using hydrotherapy with hot water to try to bring the abscess to a head. Anyway, good luck! Keep us posted. Just as an aside, we have a large herd (24) and only a very few have any symptoms. Even within the same pasture, one might have it and none of the others do. We have been in a horrible drought situation. Then had a heavy rain a few weeks ago. Soon thereafter we had a LOT of pesky flies. Not easily controlled with spray, over-head spray system, fly predators in outside paddocks, etc. These rascals are vicious!
Blessings,
Judy
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Judy Henslee
Member
Username: judyhens

Post Number: 226
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 10:02 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We are in Texas dealing with the same thing in a few horses in our herd. Until the abscess(es) rupture, I don't believe that isolation is critical. I don't think it is contagious horse to horse, but requires a vector (like flies) or contamination of an abrasion or open sore. Our vet suggested what Dr. O said - no antibiotics initially. The initial swelling looked like trauma. We have the most affected horse on bute and are using hydrotherapy with hot water to try to bring the abscess to a head. Anyway, good luck! Keep us posted. Just as an aside, we have a large herd (24) and only a very few have any symptoms. Even within the same pasture, one might have it and none of the others do. We have been in a horrible drought situation. Then had a heavy rain a few weeks ago. Soon thereafter we had a LOT of pesky flies. Not easily controlled with spray, over-head spray system, fly predators in outside paddocks, etc. These rascals are vicious!
Blessings,
Judy
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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 10
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 10:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Judy. We had a very unusual hot, dry summer here in Central IL. It seems that the conditions were just right for this nasty bug. I use feed-through fly control, fly predators, and overhead mist in the barn but one of the nasty ones still found their way in. I uploaded pictures of King's progress here - http://photobucket.com/King-pigeon. The funny thing is that even though the organism for PF was isolated and confirmed the vet is still questioning whether it is PF and says he didn't see any of the clinical signs. I think my pictures document the typical symptoms and now I'm glad I took them. I'm baffled.
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Vicki Z
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 2522
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 2:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O, Sandra and Judy,

This is very interesting to me because one of my horses has been having some lameness issues in recent weeks. Then about a week ago I noticed a scab where there had been some drainage in the axilla (armpit) area of one of his hind legs. There was still a lumpy swelling left there too. I treated that spot and poulticed the area.

His lameness had worsened again recently and today I noticed a sticky scab on the side of his neck where there has apparently been some drainage. Next to it are several large, lumpy swellings.

One thing that I have read is that diarrhea accompanies PHF but don't notice that either of you have mentioned that symptom? My horse has not had diarrhea so far.

Dr. O, can it be PHF without diarrhea?

How long can PHF drag on? Is it preferable to have these lumps lanced? What are the chances of them resolving on their own and what kind of time frame should one expect?

If not PHF, what other diseases or problems should be considered?

I was planning to haul this horse from Virginia to Florida within a couple of weeks and am now wondering whether I will be able to get a health certificate.
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Vicki Z
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 2523
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 5:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I should not have abbreviated pigeon fever as PHF as that is probably what describes Potomac Horse Fever.
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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 11
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 6:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My horse did not have diarrhea and I don't remember seeing that as a symptom anywhere. Dr. O does not list it as one in his article. Besides Dr O's article you can find some some good ones on http://www.thehorse.com as well as these two:
http://americashorsedaily.com/pigeon-fever-part-1/
http://americashorsedaily.com/pigeon-fever-part-2/. I was happy to read in the last one that the AQHA is funding research with a goal to develop a vaccine.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 26013
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 9:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Sandra,
I think disinfecting stalls that have been contaminated is a good idea. I would consider one of the quartenary ammonium salt disinfectants like Roccal-D. If not available through your feed and livestock store your veterinarian ought to be able to get it. Follow the instructions carefully on whatever product you use.

Really the only practical way to monitor for new infections is to watch for symptoms, nothing else makes sense to me.

Vicki, let's take your questions to a new discussion.
DrO
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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 12
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 - 12:37 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for the suggestion of Roccal-D. I wasn't sure what to use.

Sandie
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Judy Henslee
Member
Username: judyhens

Post Number: 227
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 - 9:10 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi All,
This has really been a helpful thread! Your pictures look much like our affected horses, Sandra. Vicki, we have not seen diarrhea in any of these horses. None are actually acting ill nor visibly lame, including the one horse with significant, hard swelling in his chest. The course in our herd, in general, seems to be: hard swelling in chest area or belly, proximal edema, swelling between the forelegs which looks and feels like a water balloon, then either regression of all symptoms or rupture of the hard swelling and drainage. Our vet only gave antibiotics to one older (late teens) pregnant mare with a foal at her side (who hasn't gotten PF) whose abscess had ruptured and who still had a lot of edema. It is possible he only gave her antibiotics because the massive swelling and drainage started while we were gone and we told staff who called in a panic to start antibiotics, bute, hydrotherapy, etc., until we returned and the vet could come out (2 days later). So...my guess is that if he had seen it the first day he might not have started it at all. But once started, I think he didn't want to stop it. We had never seen PF before. Never want to see it again. Those flies are still swarming. I wonder if there is a toxic level of fly spray for pregnant mares?
Blessings,
Judy
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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 13
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 - 9:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Judy, I agree with you - I never want to see PF again. Unfortunately, I fear I won't get that wish now that I've had a horse with it on my property.

Dr. O,
My vet is still questioning whether my horse actually has PF since he doesn't know of any cases in Illinois. Besides the symptoms I've documented, doesn't the positive culture confirm it?
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Judy Henslee
Member
Username: judyhens

Post Number: 228
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 - 10:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O & All: My husband has a question re: bute use for P.F. We have been giving it to 3 horses with signs of P.F. at the vet's recommendation. None seem uncomfortable or are limping. Is bute used simply as a pain killer in this case? If so, we might stop it unless they show signs of pain. If the bute in some way helps reduce the inflammation and speeds recovery, we would certainly continue it. What role does it play in this disease? Thanks! Judy
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 26015
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 - 4:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sandra, exactly what organism(s) were cultured and in what kind of numbers?

Judy, I think that would be a good topic for a new discussion rather than mixing this with Sandra's discussion.
DrO
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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 14
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 - 4:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The culture showed Corynebacterium Pseudotuberculosis confirmed with chemical testing. The amount was light. The culture was taken after the drainage site was lanced and a large amount of material had flushed. He seemed to just swab inside the opening an inch or so and did not target the encapsulation that was seen in the ultrasound prior to lancing. That along with the flushing could account for the light count. You can see the report here - http://s1142.photobucket.com/albums/n605/mftlover/King%20-%20Pigeon%20Fever/?action=view&current=MicrobiologyReport.jpg.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 26023
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 - 11:37 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Both the symptoms and the culture are consistent with PF. I don't know what else you can do to get a better diagnosis now.

I doubt I would have made this diagnosis from the information provided here if there was no history of PF locally. What diseases are seen locally is one of the most important basis for any diagnosis. Perhaps he is suggesting there was trauma that has become infected with the PF organism, and that is possible.
DrO
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Sandra Kappes
Member
Username: skappes

Post Number: 15
Registered: 8-2001
Posted on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 - 10:30 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

He did the culture when he lanced the drainage site saying that it could have become infected. I don't blame him for missing the PF diagnosis and think that other vets I know and respect would have missed it as well. Other than not being as concerned as I think he should have been when the horse's pain and inflammation continued to worsen, I think he did everything he could have done, and did it well, given that PF is not expected locally.
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