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Chloramphenicol worried about giving. Opinions please!

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  • Chloramphenicol worried about giving. Opinions please!

    I have a customer's horse prescribed this med. I am leaving out the details of why, as it is not my horse. But it is my job to administer this med orally in a paste three times a day for 30 days. The more I think about it, the less thrilled I am.
    There is no option for the customer to give the meds, they are out of state. It is my job to care for this horse, he was sent to me as a lay up. He was not sent to me with this medication prescribed. The horse ended up needing surgery for the reason he is on lay up.
    According to the info that was sent home with him, this medicine can cause a deadly aplastic anemia in certain sensitive individuals even at a very low dose. I am really starting to think that I need to value my life more.
    Obviously I am very careful administering it and I wear gloves and long sleeves. I dispose of everything carefully. But no one can control a horse suddenly sneezing or coughing on them etc... I've given it for a week and as each treatment goes by I feel dumber and dumber possibly risking my life for this horse. Maybe I'll be fine, but what if things go side ways. How stupid would that be for me.
    The stats I found are 1 in 10,000 will have deadly reaction to this medication even in tiny doses. I am thinking of talking to my vet about alternatives. I didn't know the risk of the medicine until I got the horse home from surgery and read the discharge instructions.
    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by bingbingbing; Mar. 28, 2020, 01:22 AM.

  • #2
    Is it dangerous for you if it touches you or if you invest it?

    If the latter I wouldn't be as worried.

    If the first. Is he fighting you to give it to him?
    You normally raise their head until they swallow, so if he coughs then it shouldn't really land on you.

    But honestly this is totally up to you. If you don't want to do it. They can find someone else, pay the vet to come or send the horse to the vets.
    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


    • #3
      Thank you! It can be deadly in certain individuals if a very small amount gets on the skin.

      I am very good at adminstering oral meds and the horse is good so far about me treating him. But I feel you can't control a 1,000 pound animal if they decide to fling their head or cough. It's a paste so it's impossible to get him to swallow 100% of the residue off of his cheek and tongue immediately.

      I've talked to two vets about the seriousness of giving this medicine and one was quite cavalier and the other was definitely more concerned. But you are right, it is my decision whether I continue to treat this horse.


      • #4
        I hesitate to post, as I don't think my anecdotal experience will help you in the face of the scary dire warning label stuff, but for what it is worth.... chloramphenicol is commonly prescribed to horses and has been for many years. It is routinely handled safely by both veterinary professionals in hospital and also by owners administering it to horses at home in their care. Veterinary professionals wouldn't send home a medication that they wouldn't comfortably administer themselves routinely in the same manner or any reservations about it for owners to do the same very safely.

        In hospital, it almost always a liquid compound administered PO by mouth, and is definitely a "wear gloves" medication. No other precautions are usually taken. And trust me, horses toss their heads, spit it out, and blow it all other the place sometimes in hospital just as they do at home. We wear gloves. And give the meds. And survive everyday. If we didn't, then it would be prescribed differently, or not at all. And it certainly wouldn't be sent home with owners.

        Wear gloves. Add eye protection and a mask for extra protection, at home, to be extra careful. I would be comfortable, myself, but I wouldn't blame you for a different opinion. These are scary times that have us all second guessing everything we do.


        • #5
          If you are concerned, wear a light rain jacket and gloves. Long pants and even a face mask if you are really worried.


          • #6
            Sample of 1, but 15 years ago I had a horse with a "street nail" infection that was difficult to treat, and we ended up using Chloremphenicol. It was VERY expensive, but luckily covered by insurance. These were pills that I ground up and mixed with water.

            No special warning on the pill bottle, and I do not remember taking any special precautions (not even gloves). (I still have the bottle with 4 remaining 1g pills)

            The only warning is not to give it within 2 hours of pentobarbitol anesthesia.

            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


            • #7
              Our risk in something dangerous or deadly happening in just regular day to day interactions in working with horses is probably higher than 1/10,000.

              If it were me, I would long sleeves and gloves and carry on.


              • #8
                Thank you freshman for taking the time to post.

                I think my biggest concern is that the meds end up somewhere the horse flings it, or drops some and I unknowingly touch it later. I also don't love the multi dose paste tube as there is no way to not have some on the outside of the tube. I keep the tube in a plastic cup in between treatments.

                Originally posted by knic13 View Post
                Our risk in something dangerous or deadly happening in just regular day to day interactions in working with horses is probably higher than 1/10,000.

                If it were me, I would long sleeves and gloves and carry on.
                Mine for sure isn't. I minimize risks.

                I will keep treating him, but it is stressful for me. I have been covering myself and wearing a mask.

                For anyone interested, this is what was sent home with the meds and the only thing they put in bold. (I know the clinic needs to cover themselves, but what they wrote are facts and not scare tactics.): Please be careful when administering this drug not to get any on your skin or mucus membranes. While side effects from this drug are rare in people, in certain sensitive individuals the drug can cause severe life threatening anemia at very low doses.


                • #9
                  WHy don't you look it up on line and see the side effects, rather than just whatever was sent to you?


                  • #10
                    And what a low dose is considered to be.
                    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lorilu View Post
                      WHy don't you look it up on line and see the side effects, rather than just whatever was sent to you?
                      Of course I did. I spent a lot of time online researching it. And what I found didn't make me feel any better about giving it.


                      • #12
                        IMO- you can get yourself very stressed by examining the possible side effects of any medication you give to horses (bute is also linked to aplastic anemia, among many other things). I did a very quick search and 1:10,000 appears to be quite an aggressive estimate; studies I found indicate a much lower incidence, and route is important (ie there is a higher incidence if you eat it vs getting it on various body parts). I would agree with the poster who said you do many things in your day-to-day life with horses that are far, far riskier (even if you take steps to mitigate risk, there is always inherent risk that can’t be avoided, and it’s not insignificant).

                        That said, if you are experiencing significant stress over this, why not call the treating veterinarian and ask him/her to prescribe an alternative? Only you can decide what acceptable risk is for yourself. If you feel your life is in danger, you need to find an alternative- especially if you are going to dose this 90 times.


                        • #13
                          I am not the person who reads the side effects of medications and suddenly experiences them. I am not losing sleep over this but I think my concern is legitimate. Especially since I will be administering this medication 90 times in a month.

                          I use plenty of other medications and understand the risk associated with them.

                          Thank you for all of the replies I appreciate all of them.


                          • #14
                            If you don't feel comfortable administering it, ask for an alternative.
                            any medication has side effects, including long term damage or death. Whether you read the fine print or Google the worst outcome is up to you and take it with a grain of salt. Your chances of you being one of the few individuals affected by it, are usually slim. Does it hurt to know? Personal choice.

                            Take metacam, it is very commonly prescribed to dogs and cats for pain management. We gave it to our dog as the vet thought he might be a bit sore. On day 3 we took him to the vet in the morning and he was declared healthy. In the afternoon he got a blood clot in his heart and died at home. We didn't read the small print, small print said death could occur between days 3 and 5 of administering it.
                            We trusted the vet, and knowing what small chances you take with medication.
                            Will I use it again, absolutely not. Did I start reading the fine print on medication: yes. I take it with a warning, and a grain of salt.


                            • #15
                              For some years, when it first came on the market, it worked exceptionally well for cattle.
                              Everyone was using it, it was a miracle drug.
                              The preparation we used was a dark blue liquid.
                              We gave many shots of that and no one around here ever was sick.

                              After a few years, the story goes that dairy people were overusing it and some people had become sick as described, sick enough some died.
                              It was taken off the market for a while, then re-introduced under restricted use.
                              We could not get it any more for cattle.
                              It was a loss, it worked so well on most organisms.
                              Oher antibiotics, not so well, more hit and miss if it would work.

                              Since it comes with that warning now, I would heed it, just in case you may be or become sensitive to it.
                              Could you ask your vet for a different medication?
                              Or let them keep the horse in their clinic while he needs it for them to give it?


                              • #16
                                Thank you Bluey.

                                GoTeke: “any medication has side effects, including long term damage or death. Whether you read the fine print or Google the worst outcome is up to you and take it with a grain of salt.”

                                Of course I am well aware of that. I did not dissect any fine print or go searching for the worst outcome. The information was presented to me by the vet clinic very clearly that I need to handle this medicine very carefully and why. I’ve brought plenty of animals home from the clinic/surgery and have NEVER had one warning like this regarding a medication.

                                I am going to continue treating this horse and will be extra careful.


                                • #17
                                  I really like Bluey’s idea- perhaps the horse could stay at the vet clinic for now. Gloves and masks might be difficult to find right now. If you do have gloves, maybe double glove??? Or, of course, ask for an alternative drug.
                                  And, this is already a difficult time w people wondering how they will cope if they get sick. If OP has lots of others to care for, being concerned about this is understandable, even if the possibility is small.
                                  Last edited by NaturallyHappy; Mar. 30, 2020, 12:09 PM. Reason: Added thought