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Possible blood parasite(tick related) or lymphoma?

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  • Possible blood parasite(tick related) or lymphoma?

    Hi COTHers, bare with me please, it’s a long story. My horse, Bruno, is a rescue off the feedlot and estimated at about thirteen years old. I’ve never had any problem with him up until now. Six days ago he went off his water and I assumed he was colicking. I called the vet out right away to tube him. Two days later, I thought he was getting better but then reverted. Had another emergency vet come out to tube and this time pull blood. Blood work came back normal. This vet was out on 08/12/2019. I got his bloodwork back and was told it was normal. I did as directed and took him temperature rectally throughout the day which he would spike random fevers but banamine got the first one of 103 down to 101. Later on last night I took his temp again and it was 106. Loaded him up and off to Pilchuck he went. When he arrived, they pulled blood work. Blood work came back normal except for a white blood cell count of 2.2. Mind you, when the vet pulled blood 24 hours previously, his white cell blood count was 5.2. Dramatic difference. When palpitated, his spleen was extremely enlarged to the point it is four inches over on the other side of his body. They went and did a stomach tap which only got back blood. He was spiking fevers up until this morning when administered tetracycline via IV. Since then his fever has gone away. The vet told me the possibilities are endless, but he’s betting on either blood parasite or possible lymphoma with how drastically he took a turn for the worse and the size of his spleen. Although, the tetracycline has seemed to made a big improvement, I wanted more ideas of what others think this could be or those who have went through the same ordeal and what the outcome was. I won’t know until tomorrow whether or not he gets to come home after his second dose of tetracycline. Thank you in advance, any advice is appreciated. :/

  • #2
    If the tet made such a drastic difference, I'd be going with anaplasmosis or similar. I have no idea if that can affect the spleen. I can tell you when my cat was diagnosed with small cell intestinal lymphoma, there was no fever - NO idea if that's relatable or not.

    Blood work normal, in the face of symptoms, and then abnormal, is easily explained by the first draws being before the body fully mounted an attack.

    Hopefully a tick panel is being run
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • #3
      Sounds like anaplasmosis to me, although I've never heard of a stomach tap bringing up blood. That is concerning.

      Be prepared that a tick panel is likely to be negative. Around here they don't even always test because a false negative is so common.

      I've had several horses treated for anaplasmosis with IV oxytet -- usually followed by 10 days of doxycycline. Be sure to ask your vet about follow up treatment if they suspect tickborne illness.


      • #4
        A tick panel can easily be negative if the blood was drawn too soon after infection. But if it's drawn at or after the current low WBC, I would much more expect the antibodies to be in enough circulation to show up.

        But since there's such an improvement after just 1 dose of tet, I would definitely continue full treatment, and assume it's a tick-something.
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • Original Poster

          That’s our game plan as right now. I’m still at loss about his abnormally enlarged spleen and am not too sure what to do about that or his refusal to drink water. He’s coming home today not feeling 100% but good enough to where there’s hope he’ll continue to improve. No fever as of yet.


          • #6
            My anaplasmosis guy wasn't keen on drinking either, despite a 107* temp I made alfalfa "tea" - a cup or so alf pellets in a 5 gallon bucket, all sloshed around, and he loved that. You can add a glug of molasses too, or whatever does the trick -apple juice, crushed peppermint, gatorade, etc
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chaoticchronicles View Post
              That’s our game plan as right now. I’m still at loss about his abnormally enlarged spleen and am not too sure what to do about that or his refusal to drink water. He’s coming home today not feeling 100% but good enough to where there’s hope he’ll continue to improve. No fever as of yet.
              Well, he probably feels like crap, that's why. Anaplasmosis is nasty and one dose of IV oxytet isn't necessarily enough yet to make him feel normal. I'm surprised they are letting you take him home already. I had one that needed 4 doses before she turned around - and the fear is dehydration and then colic. (The other only needed 2). Keep a close eye on him.


              • Original Poster

                He has had two doses already at the hospital, my vet closer by will continue give him the rest of his doses along with banamine, my question is how long does it normally take for an enlarged spleen to go back down to normal? He was brought home last night and seems much better, his water consumption is finally decent and he’s eager to eat, but his spleen is so heavy he has to lay down often or else he’s uncomfortable.