My 16 yr old tb gelding may have EPM. I should get the blood test results by Wednesday. I've had him for 12 years. I'm going back and forth between deciding to treat him (at $800 a month for 2 months) or putting him down. I could manage the cost, but just barely. I also just bought a mare a month ago. This was before my horse was showing any symptoms. I had planned on retiring my gelding.
If he was suffering w/ no chance of recovery, I wouldn't have such a hard time deciding putting him down. But there is that chance. There is also a chance of relapse. The important thing in treating EPM is not stressing a horse out. If I moved him to a new place, he would be stressed. He just came back to me after a free lease situation in which the other horses beat him up and in which he lost 100 pounds. This stressful situation probably caused him to become worse.
I want to do what's best, but it's a very hard decision. I feel so awful trying to make the decision (I know the test is not in but if it's not EPM, then it's something probably worse). Has anyone ever been in my shoes, and if you have, what was your experience?
Perhaps wait and see how he's doing after a month? If he's making good progress (I don't know anything about EPM to know if you would actually see progress or not by then, jsyk) stick with it and finish the treatment. If he's going downhill even more maybe letting him go would be the best choice.
Tru : April 14, 1996 - March 14, 2011
Thank you for everything boy.
Remember that EPM is not the only possible diagnosis. He may have something much cheaper to treat, EMND, equine motor neuron disease which is caused by vitamin E deficiency. It usually responds well to megadose vitamin E supplementation. Good luck and keep us posted!
RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.
I'm so sorry that you are having to go through this, it's not an easy situation to deal with. My first horse was diagnosed with EPM as a 5 year old. We treated him, he recovered and has never had a relapse. He evented through Prelim, and is now in his late teens and still sound and happy.
I don't want to give you false hope, because not all EPM stories end as well as ours did, and nobody would fault you for giving your guy a dignified end. Once the results are in, have an honest talk with your vet about the chances of relapse, the likelihood of successful treatment and what kind of quality of life your horse will have post-treatment. In the end, I think your gut will tell you the right call to make.
I am facing some of these hard decisions with multiple horses right now. Really sucks.
I think it is only fair that you consider what is best for YOU as well as the horse. If the money will put you at risk, there is nothing wrong with letting your guy go. It is a terrible place to be in, jingles for you.
West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
EPM isn't the "death sentence" that it used to be. And a sixteen year old horse that is otherwise healthy, should be a decent candidate for treatment, especially if the symptoms are just now in evidence.
I would wait until the bloodwork comes back, before trying to make a decision. And then, if it's positive, I would consider a spinal tap to confirm the diagnosis. It's cheaper than treatment, and will definitively state whether the horse has EPM or not. Blood tests can show positive titers, but the horse can be EPM negative on spinal tap. Ask me how I know about this.
What type of test is being done. There are several new blood test out there
that are far more definitive than the one done on Basque in 1998 that just showed exposure. We did the spinal tap but the sample got contaminated with
blood. You might want to talk to someone at Texas A&M vet school.
The sooner treatment begins the better. There are a couple of good websites:
www.meadowherbs.com (the list owner has a recovered EPM horse and the
website has a wealth of EPM info along with a
message board for EPM horse owners)
www.epmhorse.org (list has info on the latest tests, list owner posts on the
other message board)
This is a disease that the owner needs to be proactive. Many vets have limited experience with EPM or don't keep up with the latest development.
There are also other diseases that mimic EPM and selenium deficiency is another item to test for.
No advice, just (((hugs))). Let us know the results and that whatever decision you make is OK. I would be a little worried that the weight loss could be attributable to his illness and not just the stressful moving situation, which always worries me that the horse is going into a decline. Is there any chance that is the case?
EPM can take a wide range of forms, it is not always a death sentence but if it is going to cause long-term discomfort I would not want my senior to suffer. Some EPM cases are more uncomfortable than others, I would want to work with my vets to get an honest evaluation of where my horse's long-term prognosis looked to fall.
Been there, done that. I have owned my horse since he was 2. He was diagnosed with EPM, via spinal tap, when he was 12. Treated him with Marquis for 2 months. Fully recovered, with minimal lasting effects, and continued winning at 3'. At about 16 or 17 he blew out his stifle and become the best up/down lesson horse. At 19, the symptoms of EPM came back, but was hard to diagnose because he already traveled so wonky with the stifle injury. I did not do a spinal tap again and just went with the assumption that it was a relapse. I treated him for about 4 months with the sulfer medication they used prior to Marquis being the "IT" drug. He is 21 now. He will never be ridden by anyone but my 2 year old daughter, but he is VERY happy. Good luck & jingles.
I lost my then 18yo to it. Its a crappy, awful thing to deal with.
My guy was in otherwise great health, but I lost him 7 days after the DX due to a false DX from another vet at the clinic who did hock injections on him. He was in EPM overload within 2 days of those injections and gone 5 days after that. We never had time for the bloodwork to come back, he was gone so quickly.
EPM is nasty, it just is...and it can be harder on older horses. Not ALL horses recover and not ALL horses die, its just hit or miss.
Its a tough decision, but you have to weigh his quality of life. My horse was covered in road rash from spinning and falling, I couldnt get close enough to him to keep his wounds clean, winter was coming, the farrier could not trim his feet or even get his shoes off, he couldnt go out with other horses and was stuck in a sacrafice paddock alone. If he fell on the far side of the paddock and couldnt get up, he couldnt get to water...there are so many things you HAVE to take into consideration.
Rudy had been my compainion for 15 years and this was not the retirement I had envisioned for him, I had no idea I would loose him so soon. But, I also knew I couldnt live with myself wondering if he was down somewhere and couldnt get up, wondering if I would get hurt trying to administer meds, or wondering if he would make it through the winter.
There is no right answer, you just have to go with your heart and do whats best for the horse at the time. I shelled out over $5k on that horse in 7 days doing my best to give him the best chance he had and I failed...its not always about the money.
Never Ride Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly
Way Back Texas~04/20/90-09/17/08
Green Alligator "Captain"
Basquesmom, the blood test is supposed to be a newer more accurate one. And thank you for the links. I plan on checking them out.
I got the test back today, and it shows that he does have EPM. I talked to the vet and she said there was a cheaper treatment that is $200 for the month. I decided to go w/ this option b/c it's easier financially on me. I can't remember what it's called ( I think it has some type of sulphur in it). My receipt says it's pyrimeth.suspension. I also will be giving him vitamin E/Folic acid along w/ the EPM med. That ran me another $65, but I know it's important for his immune system.
The vet said it has worked for her in the past. I decided to treat him for one month. If he does not improve or gets worse, I'll perhaps put him down. At least this way, I'm giving him a chance. If it works, I'll continue treating him.