Sad Update post #39-Strangles, possible Bastard Strangles and possible Purpura
Just looking for some insight here -
11 year old TB mare, 17.2, 1200 lbs contracted Strangles on September 12th. Vet contacted, fever of 103.5 for a few days, told to give 1g bute twice daily until fever goes below 102. Stall rest. No swelling in throatlatch area or jaw. Mare turned back out with other horses recovering from Strangles on 9/17.
9/20 mare is grotesquely disfigured with throatlatch swelling and left side neck swelling, so much you cannot distinguish jaw line and where head ends and neck starts. Vet visit determined just a severe case of strangles, just give bute for pain, supportive care, stall rest, warm compresses, etc.
9/30 mare has lost approximately 100 lbs, on and off grain and hay, painful to chest, loud and wheezy breathing. Hauled to vet clinic for ultrasound of lungs to rule out pneumonia and scoped/flushed both severely distended guttural pouches. Lanced one large throatlatch abscess and mare immediately looks brighter and perkier. Mare taken home and ate well that day and the next.
Mare continues to lose weight daily, weight loss now at about 250 lbs. Significant stocking up on all 4 limbs 10/11 evening. Vet visit last night suggest still active Strangles infection (has new abscesses popping up every day on face, throatlatch and neck). Vet detected Jugular in neck depressed from abscess, possible abscess in chest (ultra sounded and is infected inflamed chest muscle indicating possible bastard strangles along with significant weight loss). Stocking up and small hemorrhages in nostrils may indicate Purpura. Blown abscess by left ear which has watery and pus discharge is actually abscessed salivary gland which is now running down her face every time she chews. Neck and face abscesses lanced and has given some relief.
Blood sent to Kentucky to check titer levels - 1000 or below just classic strangles - 10-15k means Purpura. No test for bastard strangles but if IM Penicillin 2x daily does not improve condition, then most likely is bastard strangles. Results not expected until Friday at earliest.
Help - anyone have experience with all this at once? I can't lose my mare, she is my heart.
Last edited by vlong; Oct. 15, 2010 at 09:03 PM.
I have a TB mare who is a Bastard Strangles survivor, but it doesn't sound like what your poor thing is going through. My mare got strangles June one year, did not give antibiotics (per vet), it broke, drained, was nasty but fairly textbook. She was probably 12 at the time.
Almost one year later she colicked. Vet palpated her, found a mass, asked me if she could be pregnant. Umm. nope. I was in Arizona then, hauled her down to Arizona equine where they ultrasounded her and found a watermelon sized abscess in her abdomen. There was not a way to treat it directly, she was on 50cc of penicillin a day, and also massive smz's , although I can no longer remember for how long. A LONG time. Poor thing getting stuck so much. She was very sick. She is now 23yo.
Jingling and hoping for the very best for your girl!
We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting. www.dleestudio.com
Oh my word, jingles and best wishes for your mare. I don't know much about bastard strangles, but I'm sure others will. I just wanted to let you know I'll be thinking of your mare and hoping she feels better very soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm sorry you are going through this. While yours sounds way worse then what happened with my yearling filly I can certainly understand your fears!
A couple of weeks after moving to a new barn mine presented with a high fever 105.1. Their barn Vet didn't believe me came out and indeed by then it was 105.2. Buted to get it down, best it would go was in the 102's. The vet felt it was a virus. The next couple of days was off her feed, then started drooling. Progressed to being unable to swallow feed. Vet back out and could find nothing wrong, told me it was a virus going around.
Now, it's a few days later and I go out early to check her. Drove into the driveway and could hear her roaring breathing from 500 feet away in the barn. Found her cast and barely breathing. Got help to uncast while trying to summon the vet. No luck he's on vacation. Called my own vet and she's an hour away but will get there ASAP.
Vet arrives and takes one look at her and says "She's bad, may not be able to save her". Me freaking out now. Ultrasounded her lungs vet says possible pneumonia. During this filly stops breathing and collapses. All the onlookers scream as vet orders someone to run to her truck and grab some epinephrine. We start chest compressions which took two people to perform. Vet decides to do an emergency tracheotomy and also gives the Epi.
At first it looked like she was gone, then by some miracle she took a big gasping breath through the trache. By now everyone is in tears. Anyway, filly gets up and after a few minutes tries to eat and can't. Vet says she'll be back in the afternoon to check her and left me with some antibiotics still thinking pneumonia. By the afternoon it's decided to tube her to get some fluids in as she could not even drink at that point.
While trying to get the tube down the vet must have hit the hidden abscess which burst and huge amounts of pus stated draining out. Cultured it and it came back as strangles.
She never had any external swellings at all. But came to find out there had been a herd of PMU foals on the farm just before the new owners bought the farm which was about the time I also moved there which all had strangles.
Another boarder's mare also got it and she was more like your mare, obvious draining abscesses. That mare was sick for over three months with constant draining. She had antibiotics and needed several lanced. Whether she had anything internal I don't know and my filly never showed anything else amiss and healed fairly well afterward but did have a big rough scar on her neck from the tracheostomy hole. The Vet said it was just a really virulent strain and really bad luck!
I sincerely hope your mare gets better soon for you, it's a very stressful situation.
My mare contracted strangles while at a university for training. They gave her 15cc of penicillin once a day for 3 days. Horse got very sick, totally off feed, etc, brought her home.
Once home, horse seemed better, but still had off days. After a month, one night brought her in, and her throatlatch was huge...called vet, took a biopsy, yup, she had strangles.
Penicillin 60cc twice a day...horse ok. once off treatment, fever back.
penicillin and gentomicin....horse ok, once off treatment, fever back
finally, I took her to a hospital setting and meanwhile contacted Dr. Timoney at Gluck(U of KY) and he consulted with me and the hospital vets on treatment.
Put her on IV naxcil, she seemed to improve, brought her home, fever. Did ab taps that we would send to gluck...all high wbc.
last one, she was bad, and I thought I was going to lose her...her wbc was 600,000 or something really ridiculous. Dr. Timoney thought we lost her.
I brought her to the hospital and they put her on IV baytril.
She survived. We believe her abscess burst with that very high wbc from the ab tap, but also her antibodies reacted very unusually according to the vets.
When a horse has bastard strangles, what it is, is a glob, for lack of scientific term, of the bacteria that floats around and walls itself off. It causes on and off fevers and general malaise. It is very difficult to treat because not much(antibiotic) can penetrate the wall and kill the bacterial...the danger is when the abscess bursts.
I will also state publically, I prayed the night her abscess burst, I really prayed. I was in the barn, it was dark, I had the lights off and I will swear the holy spirit came into my barn that night. The barn lit up and I knew we were in the presence of God. I know people are about rolling their eyes now(I know I probably would be), but prayer can be a powerful thing.
If possible, please get her to a hospital setting where they can put in an iv and bring on the big guns. If you can't, see if the vet can put in an iv and let you administer at home the heavier duty meds.
Ask him if he'd call Dr. Timoney and find out what the latest research is and what drugs work best now to get to the walled off abscess.
I will say a prayer for your Echo. I know how you feel. This is my heart horse, and at the time, she was 5, she is now 16.
Don't be shy, as the hospital vet said to me, and words I will never forget...you are your horse's advocate, don't stop at anything. I was afraid he would get upset with me if I spoke to Dr. Timoney or did research on my own. Some vets have egos that do not match their skill or knowledge.
Keep us updated, and I will keep Echo in my thoughts.
I second going to a facility where they can put her in iso & under strict care.
My gelding developed purpura secondary to a strangles infection; you don't mess with that. Thankfully I caught the swelling the first day, recognized what it was, and he was on dex that night. It took 8 weeks of 30ccs of penicillin twice a day and trying to wean him off the dex three separate times before the ordeal was finally over.
Dr. T from Ledgewood has been treating her and was in contact with Cornell today. At this point I don't know if she could make the trip. Extreme difficulty walking this evening - almost stumbling because she is not lifting her feet up. Unwrapped legs and cold hosed, re-wrapped - still almost ataxic.
I'm so sorry for what you are going through. Do whatever you can to make her comfortable at this point. I went through a strangles epidemic that resulted in extreme weight loss in one horse, and purpura in another. Both survived but it was hairy for a while. The one too sick to eat was treated at home; the purpura filly (2yo) was in a clinic for 5 days and recovering at home for weeks afterwards.
Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
It can be a long road to recovery but a successful one.
A few years back a 3 year old QTR mare of pleasure horse breeding arrived at the clinic where I was working with a high fever and colic symptons. The owner unloaded her and the mare laid flat out in the stall trying to die. Strangles had gone through the barn earlier in the year. Anyway, we got her on her feet and she was given supportive care with fluids started. The doc confirmed it was purpura hemorrhagica.
All 4 of her legs were swollen like stove pipes. For 11 days she did not move in her stall and she did not lay down. Part of her care was hydrotherapy on her legs throughout the day. That and the little handwalking she would do was the only movement for her. On her 12th morning at the clinic we found her standing but she had shavings on one side proving she had laid down to rest sometime overnight. She got better each after that and left on the 21st day of her illness to finish her recovery at the farm. It was touch and go for sure but the pretty bay mare did survive.
Good luck with your horse. Hang in there, it can be quite a rough ride.
The vets put my mare on 25cc of pen twice a day, and also SMZ's twice a day (maybe 20 each time, can't quite remember). They felt just the pen was not enough.
Hoping for the very best for both of you.
We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting. www.dleestudio.com
Was more unsteady this morning and reluctant to move. Dragging all 4 legs and almost stumbling with every step. Dr thinks it is purpura progressing but won't commit until bloodwork is back. Going on lunch to pick up steroids for her to make her as comfortable as possible until the bloodwork comes back.
Asked if she should be inpatient - he said I am doing everything for her that they would be doing. Probably best not to move her at this point.
For your reference - healthy pic from spring and pics from last night. I hope the link works. Reminder - when this started on 9/12 her weight was 1200. Now about 950 - only 5 weeks ago.