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Mystery Illness - Ideas?

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  • Mystery Illness - Ideas?

    Horse is a 21-yo TB. A week ago he presented with a swollen muzzle, elevated respiration and heart rate, and 103 fever. Swollen muzzle resolved after about 48 hours, but other symptoms remain. He has had a fever on and off for nearly a week, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and just today he was straining to urinate - first time I've seen him do this, although he did manage to make urine after 5 minutes or so. Yes, vet has been on this all along, he is stumped. Bloodwork was normal except for low white cell count. Gut sounds normal. He was tubed yesterday with activated charcoal, which hasn't passed through yet. Have been giving Banamine when his fever has gone over 102.5, which has been about every other day.

    Any ideas? No PHF in this area. He has been vaccinated for everything standard here, but the symptoms don't match anything my vet recognizes anyhow. Vet suspects some type of bacterial infection in the gut, but hasn't been able to identify it. Horse is not on pasture, eats the same hay as 25 other horses in the barn and the same grain as 5 others, none of the others have any signs of illness.
    Ristra Ranch Equestrian Jewelry
  • Original Poster

    No one? Horse is now at clinic, on IV fluids, white count is better today but diarrhea and fever continues. I can't help believing swollen muzzle (indicating some kind of ingested toxin?) started this, but no idea what that could be...Any input or experience with something like this would be greatly appreciated!
    Ristra Ranch Equestrian Jewelry


    • #3
      Swollen muzzle makes me think snakebite.

      Somebody else just posted earlier this week about a horse with a fever that couldn't urinate.


      • #4
        Or spider bite? I remember a woman I visited in Costa Rica said sometimes the trap-door spiders that live underground would be disturbed by the horses grazing and bite them on the nose, resulting in swollen muzzle and illness from the toxins.

        In the southwest you might have some species that could do similar?

        Snake sounds likely to me too.


        • #5
          My guess was some kind of bite as well but since that is strictly a guess I didn't want to post it. I did now just so you don't think nobody is reading your thread. Jingling for a complete recovery whatever the cause.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            Someone else here recently had a horse who could not urinate... I'll try to find that thread...
            "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


            • #7
              Here it is:

              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


              • #8
                I think maybe a sting or a bite too. Or some kind of toxic plant? Maybe in the hay?

                I had a rooster who got stung in the head by a wasp. He nearly died, I thought sure he would but he slowly recovered after a few days but he was totally blind in one eye and almost totally blind in the other. For him size wise it was probably like getting hit by a cobra or something.

                Best wishes for the horse.
                Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for the responses. Horse is stable for now at the clinic, and in the care of vets I trust 100%; however, they don't know what is wrong with him and are just treating the symptoms.

                  FWIW, the first vet to see him the first day was the same vet who cared for my pony 8 years ago or so when she was bitten by a rattlesnake. That was my first guess, but the progress of his illness hasn't fit with that at all. I have no experience with spider bites - we do have black widows and brown recluse here - but vets have told me that he would have an obvious ulcerated wound from that, and there is none. Vets *did* initially think that something he ate could be causing this, but since I have been buying hay for years from a very reliable and consistent source and have many other healthy horses eating from the same bales, vets now say this is unlikely. I have a feeling this may be one of those things we never figure out *sigh* just hope the horse can hang in there til whatever it is is no longer in his system.

                  Thanks for the well-wishes, will continue to update.
                  Ristra Ranch Equestrian Jewelry