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Pigeon Fever?

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  • Pigeon Fever?

    My husband's horse had a lump on his neck on Saturday. It was on the side of his neck about halfway up. It felt pretty hard and was about the size of my palm. I thought he probably got kicked.

    The next morning the lump was draining from the top from a very small hole. I put triple antibiotic on it as well as a drawing salve called, I think Pride. At that point I was thinking maybe he got a small splinter in there. He does love to rub on trees. I thought where it was draining from was possibly the entry point of the splinter. I used the drawing salve until the draining stopped, which was only a couple of days.

    There is still a hard swelling under the skin but it's not visible to look at, only feel.

    Some people on my facebook have expressed worry it could be pigeon fever. What are your thoughts on that?

    I will be calling my vet tomorrow to ask his thoughts as well. What would the vet do to find out if it is Pigeon Fever?

  • #2
    I am so sorry, sick horses are not fun. Yes, it could be strangles but it could be something else. You need to have your vet culture it and determine what it is. My young OTTB had something that looked like strangles and we treated it as if it was when he came to me spring of 2011. But the culture indicated something else, he is fine now.

    Hope all is well, horses like kids get sick and they do recover.


    • #3
      It sounds like pigeon fever EXACTLY like my two year old. There's a really weird strain going around this year. She got a huge, hard lump in the crease of her neck in front of her shoulder. It got HUGE, like two softballs, and hard as a rock. Vert was out twice to try to drain, but it never really did. It's just been slowly pussing out for six weeks now!

      Other horses were she is got it on the sheath, over the hip, and on the face! It's a weird strain that doesn't want to soften up and drain.

      There's not much the vet can do except try to drain it, and it sounds like it's too hard to do that. You could try hot poulticing it to see if you can get anything to come up.


      • Original Poster

        Stolen virtue, LOL Pigeon Fever not Strangles.

        Beenthere, I do intend to call my vet tomorrow. I'm not sure that there's much more to drain. Most of the swelling is gone. I can feel an area that is still swollen and hard but it is not visible to the eye.

        *Don't know if it makes a difference but from the trail of where it was draining, there actually wasn't that much stuff coming out but the swelling was greatly reduced.

        How long do you quarantine if it is Pigeon Fever?


        • #5
          Scorpion sting maybe..I see you are in TX. A friend got stung and it left a huge palm-sized swelling that drained..she suspected that the stinger broke where it stung her. It took over a week to go down all the way. I see them in my barn on occasion and have always wondered if the horses could get stung, but none have yet to my knowledge. Just a thought.


          • Original Poster

            I've never seen scorpions in my area of Texas. I'm in the Houston area.

            The speed with which it came on and then now mostly gone makes me suspect trauma of some type. Hopefully my vet can confirm that for me tomorrow.


            • #7
              When I found it I thought it was an injury, too. Maybe yours is. I don't know if anyone else quarantines for pigeon fever for the most part. It's in the pasture where the baby is and some get it. We pulled her our for awhile to try to get it to drain, but since it didn't work, she's back out with the horse with the swollen sheath and head.

              It sounds like what's happening with my filly, though. Just little pussy barely coming out.

              I can't give feedback on scorpian stings. The only place I've seen one of those was in Morocco.


              • #8
                My horse had something that sounds similar. It was a splinter, about half an inch long. Hers however never pussed up or had a clear entry point, it was just a large lump that we initially thought was scar tissue (because it happened right around the time she got her hocks done and was in the exact place where she got her shot to be sedated) and over a few weeks, it went away to be a really small lump. I kept an eye on it though and one day was feeling around it and what felt like a scab. Pulled on it and lo and behold, out popped the splinter that had been gradually working its way to the surface. So I would say definitely still have the vet look at it to be on the safe side, but a splinter or some other foreign object could be a possibility.


                • Original Poster

                  I called my vet and he is closed today. They are only open every other Saturday. I felt the lump this morning and it's almost gone. No signs of fresh draining.

                  If it's not draining, is he contagious?


                  • Original Poster

                    I called another vet in the area. They have been seeing it a lot and did say it could be but would need to swab. At this point it would probably be just for our knowledge. It would be middle of the week before they got the results back.

                    She did suggest that just to be on the safe side he not leave the property until the swelling is completely gone.

                    If one of my other horses comes up with a lump, then I will know for certain. One had an open cut just recently so if it's that contagious, he should get it.

                    Unless having strangles 5 years ago give him some immunity.


                    • Original Poster

                      I have an update on this. Charlie developed another abscess in the same area. This one looked different. It got soft and had a point. At this point I'm thinking he probably does have Pigeon Fever. After a couple of days of putting Prid on it, it burst. It had some bits of hay sticking to it. As I was picking stuff off of it, I realized one of those pieces of debris turned out to be a 2 inch splinter that was coming out of the abscess!

                      So, hopefully I was right in the first place and he never had Pigeon Fever. I will be keeping an eye on my other two just in case.

                      Hopefully he will be healed up by weekend so he can go riding.


                      • #12
                        Just FYI - the puss/drainage is very contagious and if other horse come in contact they can/will get infected.


                        "Affected horses should be isolated because drainage from their abscesses contains a high amount of bacteria that will contaminate the environment. Flies are a major vector and can spread the bacteria, so spray affected and unaffected horses (especially ones with open wounds) with fly repellent if it is still fly season. A good feed-through fly control product is a good option. People can carry the bacteria on their shoes, hands, etc., so be sure to maintain good hygiene after handling your sick horse. Bedding, water buckets, and any other materials that come in contact with pus should be disinfected/disposed of and not shared with other horses.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by mbm View Post
                          Just FYI - the puss/drainage is very contagious and if other horse come in contact they can/will get infected.


                          Charlie hasn't left the property in weeks, well before he had any discharge. My other two horses are the only other horses he has had any contact with. So far neither are showing any signs of having it.

                          With the finding of the splinter, I don't think he ever had Pigeon Fever.

                          That said, I would never take a horse off property with an open abscess or sore.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dacasodivine View Post
                            How long do you quarantine if it is Pigeon Fever?
                            Originally posted by mbm View Post
                            Just FYI - the puss/drainage is very contagious and if other horse come in contact they can/will get infected.

                            Yea, I didn't think they needed "quarantine" as much as other diseases, just isolation so the pus isn't draining all over their buddy. I remember it a lot when I lived in CO, never experienced it in my own, but it was more of a "Oh, this is what pigeon fever looks like, it's spread by flies and if they catch it just have the vet out to lance the pus pockets and after a little TLC you're good to go". Nothing too panic inducing, not like strangles/EHV/flu.