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Just want to share my experience with Potomac Horse Fever

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  • Just want to share my experience with Potomac Horse Fever

    Bunny caught Potomac Horse Fever. This is a deadly bacterial infection caused by snails, and mayflies.

    But, I caught Bunny’s infection VERY early, so her prognosis is good, however, its been a frightening past 2 days. Ive been up 24/7 icing her back down and standing her in boots packed with ice. Her temp kept spiking to around 104. she is on IV antibiotics (oxytetracycline) and Banimine (fever reducer) and is now doing very well holding her temp around 100. she has one last treatment today.

    All along she has been eating, drinking, and poo-ing normally (good thing she is a little piggy girl) which is GOOD the infection NEVER got that far.

    Ive never been so scared in my life, losing her would have been permanently devastating.

    Monday morning I started out to ride Bunny, but she was “just not right”, which prompted me to take her temp. it was 102.6, by the time the vet got there and started treatment it spiked to 103.6, and continued to rise until the treatment kicked in, and then dropped.

    having her vaccinated earlier, catching it early, and jumping onto treatment like: NOW (even before the tests got back) was the key to survival. NOTE: if your animals are presenting: “just not right” please heed their warnings. it only takes a minute to take their temperature, and if you are in a high risk area, please booster for PHF it MAY help

    thanks for reading

  • #2
    Glad you caught it so early.
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!


    • #3
      I had a very similar experience. No one had told us that we had to booster in July-ish (based upon our spring shot schedule). This was probably 12 years ago. My mare got the last isolation stall at Cornell. Apparently there was an outbreak at a barn in my area so they started treatment before the tests came back. She fully recovered but some of the other horses from the other barn weren't so lucky

      To a 13 year old (as I was at the time), that was super-scary. I sobbed all 2hours up to Cornell. Looking back on the events of the previous week, I was able to figure out almost exactly where she got it. I let her eat some swamp grass in an effort to encourage her to get into the pond.
      The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.


      • #4
        I am so very sorry to hear about your horse! I know how frightened you must be. Good that you caught it early and got your Vet involved - your horse is really lucky that you noticed she was slightly off - really lucky! Sounds like you are really in tune with your horse! Best of luck - hope she recovers 100% quickly!


        • #5
          Having lost one to PHF and having "Potomac like" issues in horses every year (with innoculations), you are doing exactly the right thing. The banamine also prevents the ednotoxins from being absorbed by the gut, triggering the laminitis. Please be aware they can be prone to a "backlash" founder up to 1 month after symptoms subside. Please talk to your vet about keeping Bunny on Banamine or Prevocox for a longer period of time. Few things scare me more that PHF. Hang in there!


          • #6
            I had a very similar experience also. Last fall my gelding just seemed a little quiet. I took his temp and it was 101 something. I decided not to ride him that day and planned to go back out and recheck his temp after I got off work at 10 pm. Just before I left the barn owner called and he had a temp of 103.6 with hypermotile gut sounds. We started treatment that night for PHF. He was markedly better in less than 24 hours and seemed completely normal 48 hours after starting treatment. We were very lucky.

            My horses are both vaccinated for PHF, even though the vaccine has very questionable efficacy. I feel the risks of vaccinating are minimal and if it might help, even to decrease severity, it's worth it.

            Good for you for being observant! PHF is definitely going around right now...we have 2 at school at the moment that have foundered. Best wishes for a great recovery.

            Adams Equine Wellness


            • #7
              Glad Bunny is recovering ~ what a great and vigilant owner ~
              Good information to know ~ thanks for posting ~
              Jingles for some rest and recovery for Bunny and her owner.
              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


              • #8
                Ugh, I am going through this right now with one of my boarders. Horse came in very lame one morning. Nothing else seemed wrong. He had thrown a shoe 2 days prior and when farrier arrived right after morning feeding he swore it was just an abcess. Owner took farriers advice and just packed the foot and waited for the so called abcess to blow. Myself and one of my other boarders felt that the horse should see the vet just in case he was foundering, but the owner wanted to wait because the farrier told her that he was 100% positive it was an abcess and that it would blow over the weekend. 3 days later the horse was very lame on the other foot. I called the vet before even calling the owner cause I was sure he was foundering. He had a temperature of 103. Once the vet arrived she confirmed that he was def severely foundering. She ran bloodwork and confirmed he had potomac horse fever.
                We started him on oxytet, banamine, and doxy. Poor guy was so sore that he would sit on his water buckets.
                Luckily all of the meds worked wonders. It has been 4 weeks since he first was sick and he got to go outside for the first time last night. He was 100% sound and came in completely sound this morning. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
                Happy Hour-TB
                Cowboy Casanova - Brandenburg


                • Original Poster

                  thanks everybody for all the encouragement and jingles!

                  ive never been more scared in my life. ive been SO worried, I could barely breathe. didnt sleep a single wink since Monday. This mare means the world to me. ive owned her since she was 1 years old (7 now), Ive done ALL her training myself. she has always been everything ive ever wanted. I love her more than ive ever loved anything in my life, and I would go ANY lengths for her. I cant even explain how devastating it would have been to lose her.

                  the vet called yesterday afternoon, after Bunny's last treatment, and confirmed the Potomac test was positive. I let out a scream, and started crying hysterically (I think it was a relief thing) thanking GOD we did the right thing, made all the right moves. All I could think about was: "I could be LOSING her right now", instead of just having to ice her feet for a few more days.....

                  this da** PHF is SO stealth, and there are SO many strains. I honestly think that the vaccine helped reduce symptoms even if it didnt actually work.

                  Jingles to everyone who is now in this, or has experienced this (HUGS) I never thought: "it could happen to us"....

                  I guess you never know how frightening this thing is until you are the one under the gun
                  Last edited by Jumpin_Horses; Jul. 22, 2010, 09:23 AM.


                  • #10
                    Jingles continue for Bunny to make a full recoevry ~ AO ~ Always Optimistic ~
                    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                    • #11
                      I just wanted to respond with my own experience. I am glad to hear Bunny is doing much better.

                      A few years ago, my horse had Potomac Horse Fever in October...so it can happen all the way through summer and into the fall, just an FYI. He started being off his food, and "not quite right." I took his temp and it was 102.5, then when the vet came out it was around 103.5. They started him on Tetracyclene right away, but I still ended up having to take him to MSU a few days later, because his gums/mucous membranes got bright red. When I got him up there, it was touch and go for the first 24 hours, and he had to have a plasma transfusion. I hadn't vaccinated him for Potomac Horse Fever that year, so I wonder if he got a more severe reaction because of this. Although, he never had diarrhea, just overactive gut sounds, and colitis. He is fine now, but it is a very scary illness.

                      Good Luck to all of those horses who get it this year, and just keep an eye out for it to get them treated quickly.


                      • #12
                        My mare had PHF about 8 yrs ago. I noticed her NQR and called the vet who started treamtment immediately. She had been vaccinated for it . I had the complication of her being in foal. Thanks to very aggressive treatment from my vet she recovered and had a healthy foal the next spring


                        • #13
                          Dear Bunny,

                          Get well soon! Your person loves you so much and it is a joy to read about your relationship.
                          "One person's side effect is another person's desired effect." -The Vice Guide to Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll


                          • #14
                            Bumping for a weekend update on Bunny ~ hoping she is recovering in an uneventful manner ~ Jingles & AO ~ Always Optimistic ~
                            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                            • Original Poster

                              thanks ZuZu,

                              Bunny has been holding steadily at 100.5

                              Her poos are a little wet, not quiet "cow-pattieish" but, not her normal. vet says it could be because of the heavy antibiotics. so, she is on a probio now.

                              im still guarded and taking her temp every evening.

                              she is more and more like herself everyday

                              BIG HUGS to everyone who jingled. it means a lot to me

                              I pointed to Bunny yesterday and said (to my BF) "see THATS Bunny, shes back".. and he just didnt see a difference. LOL! I saw it though. plain as day to me.


                              • #16
                                Yay for the improvement! It's so hard when the furry kids are sick.
                                The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.


                                • #17
                                  yikes! so glad you caught it early. i personally know 2 horses who got it and weren't so lucky i do have a question, tho. OP and several ppl are commenting that their horses came in nqr but not really specifying where they were seeing the nqr-ness. was the horse lame, off its feed, sad seeming, what? phf is one of my great fears, esp bc we are so close to a creek O_o
                                  My mare wonders about all this fuss about birth control when she's only seen a handful of testicles in her entire life. Living with an intact male of my species, I feel differently! WAYSIDE


                                  • #18
                                    Posting this again from another thread with my experience:

                                    6 years ago, we had a very wet summer, not so unlike what we're having this year [summer of 2009]. I had very recently (2 days prior) started my mare on a new supplement when she suddenly stopped eating her grain, but I chalked it up to the change in her feed. It smelled different, and she was a bit of a picky eater anyways. She was still eating her hay, grazing and drinking normally. Then she was unusually lazy under saddle that afternoon, and very slightly lethargic in the cross-ties, but it was pretty hot that day compared to the weather we had been having up until that point, so again, I didn't think a lot of it.

                                    She wasn't interested in her dinner that night in the slightest. She didn't even come over to check it out. This was extremely unusual, and I called the vet with a heads up, and asked if she could stop by in the morning to check things out.

                                    When I went out the next AM, there was diarrhea everywhere, and my horse was a mess. She was standing in the corner, with her head down, and was pretty much unresponsive. I made an emergency call, and my vet (bless her heart) was there within 15-20 min. We had to stomach tube her, gave her a bottle of gastroid and a whole bucket of water/electrolytes. Banamine, tetracycline as well as an IV. My vet all but told me to say my good-byes at this point, and I was devastated. I iced her feet 3x a day, kept her pain check, kept her in the shade, and pretty much had to play the waiting game. She made it, and much to my gigantic relief didn't founder, but she did lose almost 200 pounds within 5 days. It took me 3 months of careful hand-grazing and conditioning to be able ride her again, and a full year before she started looking like herself again. To this day, she's a hard keeper and has a nice stack of fluffy warm blankets for the winter. Her winter coat has never completely grown in since then.

                                    Basically, if your horse isn't acting normal, even if it's not something major, call the vet. When in doubt, call the vet. I could have very very easily lost her that week, and it was not worth making excuses for the very subtle changes in her personality. I was only 16 when this all happened, but it was a huuuuuuge lesson learned!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      wow, there are VERY good stories here on this post... lessens learned... please take note to all the stories. I never did before... I DO now

                                      I have another friend whos horse got PHF. and her winter coat never came back either. we were wondering about this.

                                      Bunny didnt get to the point of being off her feed, grain, diarrhea, laminitis, colic, colitis, etc. it was more of a personality thing. she is seven years old and Ive owned her since she was 1. ive done ALL her training, and spend most of my days with her.

                                      Im surprised that I even noticed anything at all, because the change in personality was SO subtle. no one else noticed anything wrong with her. she just was NQR to me. IDK what made me check her temp that day. it was a look in her eyes that just said: "hey, I dont feel very good today".

                                      this scares the cr@p out of me. cause what if I missed something???? I would have had to say "good-bye" to her already.


                                      • #20
                                        Great ~ Glad Bunny "IS BACK"

                                        So glad Bunny "is back" ~ thank goodness you caught her early !
                                        These stories are very helpful ~ glad to read this thread = this is what COTH is all about ~ people taking the time to report their experiences so others can be fore-warned and advised ~ Jingles continue for Bunny and her owner
                                        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "