Archive for April, 2009

A Call for Photos

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I’m a visual person.  Photo images bring better understanding to me.  So I tried to incorporate photos into both the blog and the web site.  Guess what?  There aren’t many non-copyright photos of EPM horses.  I searched Flickr, YouTube, Fotkey, and many more sites.  When the vet says, “It might be EPM,” grabbing the camera for snapshots isn’t the first thing on your mind.

I have found two very talented equine photographers that are graciously lending their photos of healthy horses to this project, to fill a hole in my content.  A  big ‘Thank You’ to photographers  Johny Day and Amanda Manfredi for saying ‘Yes’ to this project.  Their photographs are an inspiration to me.

However, photos and videos of horses sick with EPM would still be more useful to other owners.  By way of the blog comments, please let us know how we can obtain photos or videos of your EPM’er.  If the video is on YouTube, send us the link for our Photo/Video page.   Thank you Jude for this video of Diesel, diagnosed with EPM in March 2009.

Tingling Skin

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Fudge is a fairly patient guy.  When he started to nip as I was brushing him, I knew that something was wrong, but couldn’t quite understand why.  I have moved to progressively softer brushes, and am now using a brush that is closer in bristle strength to a cloth than a brush.  I think foul language would be more effective at removing caked-on mud than the brush he will tolerate.

Brush strokes that are either hard or fast or flick annoy him when used on his neck.  Going down his front legs is also a problem.  There are at least three possible causes for these bad sensations.  The first is that Fudge was attacked by a miniature donkey in the field at the previous owner’s.  The attacks left him with some deep wounds to his neck and chest.  They have formed scar tissue that may have tender new nerve endings.  The second possibility is that Fudge lost skin sensation in these areas due to the EPM, and as he gains it back, it hurts.  The third is that  EPM horses can get hypersensitivity in the skin and hooves.

This last possibility doesn’t seem to make much sense.  Until you consider the inflammation in the central nervous system.  Inflammation can cause pain, just as it can cause loss of sensitivity.  Researchers don’t have much knowledge about how the CNS is being effected by EPM.  Can you imagine being hypersensitive in the hooves and having shoes nailed on?  Ouch.

We can only hope that Fudge will outgrow this sensitivity, and we need to be patient with him for now.  Each grooming session has to be careful, slow, and deliberate.  I don’t want him to hate to be groomed or touched.  It just happens to be very time consuming during mud season.  You see, Fudge likes the sensation of rolling and scratching his neck in the mud, and we’ve had a little rain lately. 

Wormer

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Intestinal parasites always make for lovely dinner conversation.

When Fudge got to us, he was having some pretty bad diarrhea. After four days of this, we called the vet, who suggested a Power Pak wormer (five days @ 2X dose of fenbendazole). Mind you, this was before we knew about the EPM infection. Wormers stress the horse and the immune system, so giving them should not be taken lightly.

There has been enough anecdotal evidence of ivermectin being linked to worsening of symptoms in EPM horses, that there have been clinical studies on the effects.  The researchers say there is no proof of, and no way to to disprove that ivermectin has any effect on EPM horses.  It is known that ivermectin crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB), but not how it affects the BBB.  The BBB is what keeps S. neurona from entering the central nervous system.

A fecal test is in order for Fudge, to determine whether he really needs to be wormed, and with which drug.  This will probably be a standard for the first year or more, so that we are not taxing his system with unnecessary wormers.  Just as unnecessary drugs are a drag on the immune system, so is a gut full of worms.

EPM really is a series of two steps forward, and one step back.  You try to prevent worsening of the neurological symptoms any way possible, because they slow the progress of the horse.  Each new neurological deficit may be permanent.  With EPM relapse rates cited from 15% to 40%, you become paranoid at slight missteps, and try hard to prevent unnecessary drug protocols.

Vaccines

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

For most horses, one veterinarian visit per year with a whammy of six vaccines is par for the spring weather.  For an EPM horse with a weak immune system, this could bring on a relapse of active EPM.  Veterinarians generally space single disease vaccines out over a long time, and watch carefully for reactions.  With a lack of history on Fudge, the decisions on vaccines have been problematic.

Why such a long face?

Why such a long face?

We do know that Paula Derby did not vaccinate Fudge while she owned him.  We do not know when he last had vaccines.   That means he needs every vaccine ASAP.  The preferred route for EPM’ers is to wait on vaccines until well after treatment. 

The veterinarian prioritized them in this order:  Rabies, Tetanus, PHF, West Nile, Rhino/Flu, EEE/WEE.  She suggested that we space them out one each week, and watch for reactions or a worsening of neurological symptoms.  The problem has been trying to find individual vaccines, particularly the PHF.  The veterinarian does not normally carry vaccines this way, and would have to order them by the 10 dose vial.  The EEE/WEE is not available through any supplier without Tetanus, so Fudge will probably have to get re-vaccinated with Tetanus in six weeks.  For EPM horse owners, learning how to give vaccines will save weekly visits by the vet.