Archive for the ‘Immune system’ Category

Concern, Greed, Insanity, or Smarts?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

I didn’t want to post on this until I saw clear improvement in Fudge.  On August 17th I told you that I had worked with my vet to order the decoquinate preventative for Fudge, because he does have a low titer to Sn.  Over the course of the month, I have given Fudge the prevention dose.  And, well, I see great improvement in the amount of feed he drops.  Will this convert to better work under saddle?  I don’t know – he goes bitless:-)

I have done a lot of reading on decoquinate over the past month.  It appears from published literature to be very safe.  It’s over the counter (OTC) for all other farm animals.  So… I get this hair-brained idea to see if a full treatment dose will help more.  Some of you will read this, and pick an adjective from those in the title.  Maybe you have another one.  No, my vet was not consulted on this.

While safe, there is a trade-off with the immune system.  At the preventative dose, the protozoa in the intestines are killed, and a few in the blood stream or intracellular.  The few killed in the blood circulate.  It primes the immune system to produce IgG antibodies specific to Sn.  This cuts the two-week lag time for the horse to go from non-specific IgM antibodies to specific IgG antibodies.  This is important when the protozoa reproduce and multiply by four every few hours.

At the treatment dose, all Sn protozoa in the body are killed within 10 days, and the body stops producing IgG antibodies because there are not any more dead protozoa in the system.  I have shot the immune-training ability of the preventative.  But, what IF Fudge had a sub-clinical infection?  The only way to find out was to give the treatment dose.  I’ll let you know what happens.

A word of warning.  Decoquinate is OTC for other animals.  It is also combined with Rumensin or Monensin which are both very toxic to horses.  Don’t use OTC decoquinate for your beloved horse.

Big Shot

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Many years ago, I saw Billy Joel in concert and he had this great song…

This came out in 1979.  Am I really that old?

This came out in 1979. Am I really that old?

What I’m really discussing is vaccines for the recovering EPM horse.  We had to vaccinate Fudge shortly after his diagnosis of EPM in April of 2009.  I had to search far and wide for single disease vaccines, and space the injections out over time.

This year we gave the normal combination shots, but spaced them out over weeks.  He did not have any visible reaction to the shots.  I will probably continue this for a few years, if not indefinitely.

One theory I’ve heard is that vaccines made from equine dermal cells may be the culprit of reactions by EPM horses.  There is no proof of this, and no studies have been carried out.  The previous EPM vaccine, which is no longer available, had a history of reactions to it.  The vaccine was produced using equine dermal cells, and was made by Fort Dodge.

Discuss the spacing of vaccines with your vet.  My vet said every four days, and I gave them at one week intervals because it was easier to schedule.  One EPM researcher suggests one vaccine per month, and only single dose vaccines.  They also suggested giving only the most critical vaccines.  Prophylactic administration of Banamine should help.

Snow Monsters

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

The blizzard of 2010 kept us busy clearing the driveway and cars this morning.  We are lucky to still have power after the high winds and heavy snow.  The horses are rarely stalled, but we put them in last night due to the possibility of branches coming down.  They were very happy to get out. 

Fudge (star) plays with Drifter (star and stripe) in the 28″ of snow.  Fudge has come a long way in his recuperation.  He is still not ride-able at more than a walk or trot.  We will continue to work on this rehab with ground exercises, and walking the trails.  It’s a very long way to the hunter pace this May.  I don’t know if Fudge will ever come back far enough to ride at a canter.  Time will tell.

The Mustang mare is obviously bored with the play of the geldings.  She is eating from one of the slow feeders.  It’s made from a small mesh hay net over a muck bucket.  It closes with a double ended dog snap.  These slow feeders are easy to fill and drag over the snow.


It has been one year since we purchased Fudge from Paula Derby of Lazy D Acres.  She has relocated to Ocala , FL.  She still obtains horses from the infamous New Holland Auction in Lancaster, PA. 

One of the things that stresses horses is trailering.  Long distance trailering suppresses the immune system.  When researchers want to infect horses with EPM, they use the trailering stress model.  Somehow, I can’t see the auction process, followed by long distance trailering as beneficial to the health of a horse.


Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Fudge had deep trauma to his neck and chest at the previous owners, compliments of a miniature donkey jack.  When we brought Fudge home, he had some scar tissue in this area, and a little unevenness in the skin.  The bumps have slowly grown to the size of an egg.  There are several possibilities that could cause these bumps.  The vet did look at them when she was here to do vaccinations, but didn’t know what had caused them.  They have grown since then, which makes them troubling.

Bumps on chest have slowly grown

Bumps on chest have slowly grown

Hematomas are blood-filled pockets that are common with kicks to the chest.  They generally appear soon after the trauma, and are slowly absorbed by the body.  These are benign bumps that are caused by trauma to the skin and muscle.

Sarcoids are thought to be caused by the bovine papilloma virus, and have been linked to a weak immune system.   They come in six different types.  Most people are familiar with the type that looks a little like a cauliflower.  They can also be nodules under the skin.  They generally occur in areas where the skin has been broken or traumatized.  Fudge is loosing hair over the bumps.  Additional small bumps can now be felt in this area.

Sarcoids are not so nice.  There is no cure for them, and they tend to multiply.  While they are not cancer, they can definitely affect the health and performance of the horse.  Trying to surgically remove them is not always successful, and many times can make them grow more aggressively.  Even trying to biopsy the sarcoid can make it grow.  Wiki has a informative page for sarcoids.  The vet will be back out next week.

Skin Problems and Immune System

Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Starting to grow hair April 4th

Starting to grow hair April 4th

The day that Fudgie came home, we noticed small bumps coming up on his skin. To head off problems, we wanted to wash him in an anti-microbial shampoo. We also noticed that he had older skin wounds that looked like they weren’t healing well. Two months later, the wounds have just now started to heal.

Fudge came to us with large blanket rubs across his shoulders and chest. After two months the hair had not started to grow back.

When a horse’s immune system is compromised by a long infection, it can’t keep the many microbes that normally inhabit the skin in check. Fungi and bacteria begin to create infections. The body also doesn’t have the extra energy to renew skin, hair, and hooves. Poor nutrition, lack of vitamin E in winter, and infection can all play a role in less-than-healthy coat and skin. We are addressing the EPM infection through medicine, and are boosting the immune system with a supplement containing probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. He is also getting 8,000 IU of additional vitamin E each day.