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I need help w/ lymphangitis prognosis

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  • I need help w/ lymphangitis prognosis

    One of my horses came down w/ lymphangitis last weekend. As I talk to people I am becoming increasingly worried due to the negative out comes( horse being put down due to chronic). Is there anyone who has had an OK outcome and their horse has fully recovered w/ no more bouts of it? I would really appreciate some good news/ hope right now....

  • #2
    My mare was diagnosed with cellulitis/lymphangitis last spring.
    She was fine one day, and the next day her leg was huge and she could barely move.
    Oral meds did not do anything, and due to this mare's past immune compromised issues, I brought her to the equine hospital for treatment.
    She was put on iv meds, and cared for.

    I could have kept her home and given her naxcel im, but chose to go to the equine hospital more for my stress level than anything else.

    She has recovered, and is doing great(knock wood). I did hear that it is a recurring disease, and I am being super careful about trimming her fetlocks/feathers to avoid scratches, which may have been one of the causes. She also had an abcess that burst above the coronary band, but it appeard to have healed, but in reality I think sent the infection systemic.

    Good luck, treat the disease aggressively.
    save lives...spay/neuter/geld


    • #3
      I've got one... mostly. Her major incident (lymphangitis and septicemia) was in 1999. Within about 3 hours she went from normal horse to unable to move. She was down for about 12 hours- and unable to walk for 3 days. She left her stall for the first time after 8 days. We tented her stall and hung IVs since she couldn't have gotten on a trailer even if we hired the horse ambulance with the hoist. The vet came four times a day.

      She fully recovered and the slice where she burst open from the swelling from coronary band to hock took about 4 weeks to heal. The most important thing was diligent care - which changed over time- between hot, cold, compression, wrapping, cleaning and letting air dry, etc. we followed the vets advice and did whatever it was 4 times a day- changed bandages every day. Within 5 weeks you really couldn't tell looking at her leg that much had been wrong. She went back to her old job (eventing and 3'6"-4' jumpers) within about 4 months- and retired two years later for totally unrelated reasons.

      In 9, going on 10 years, she has had one flare-up- in 2003. It was caught early when the swelling was just starting, and she was started on antibiotics within two hours. The vet came out later that afternoon to confirm, and gave her a boost of IV antibiotics just to be sure we wiped it out fast. Swelling was down by feeding time, and she went back outside- no signs in the morning- though she stayed on the drugs for 10 or 14 days to be safe.

      I am always careful to explain to anyone taking care of her that they should periodically feel her lymph node next to her udder- and that any sign swelling in that leg is cause for immediate concern. No writing off that she is stocked up. She also has had orders from the vet since that first incident that movement is required- so we make sure she stays out as much as possible- in nights in the winter, and when the weather is nasty and she has to stay in we wrap her behind.


      • #4
        My 35-yr-old gelding developed lymphangitis at the age of 18. Very sudden onset (classic). Regular vet was out of town and the emergency vet misdiagnosed it as snakebite - the horse wasn't treated for lympangitis until early on Day Three (when, thank God, my regular vet came out). Because of that, his case was very severe and his recovery took almost a year.

        All of that said, however, he's now 35. This CAN be managed if you're careful. My guy has worn a standing bandage on his right hind ever since the initial lymphangitis outbreak, as he tends to stock up at the drop of a hat in that leg. (I do a lot of laundry but can wrap a leg blindfolded. ) I've also watched him very carefully - any sign of lameness, heat, NQR ---- I check that leg. I also take his temperature every time I feed. It's important to be vigilant - flare-ups can develop quickly.

        He's had a few flare-ups in the last 15 years, but every time we've caught it fairly early and treated it very agressively (IV or IM meds, Banamine, cold hosing, walking to increase circulation and get the swelling down). Most imporantly, this never affected his movement or soundness - after each episode he was sound on that leg, loved to jump, try to run away with me, etc. So take heart - it's a scary disease but, in my very limited experience, it doesn't have to mean the end for your horse.
        In memory of Rebuff (1974-2009)

        Rest in peace, my sweet man


        • Original Poster

          Thank you! I have had horses for 25 years and never heard of this before! My guy is a very sensitive TB so it does not surprise me that he got this somewhat uncommon affliction...jerk! He does stay out 24/7 unless the weather is bad so that is good. The vet put him on doxy and steroids and I wrapped/hosed him in an effort to get on top of it quick. At first I was relieved that it was not a fx or strain but as I talked to the vet I got really scared. It is now 9 days later, he finished the abx and he still has a slightly swollen/ hot fetlock joint. The vet told me to apply desitin in case it was scratches that started it. He seems completely sound though and even had a bucking/bolting fit that resulted in him falling (clutz). I have had this horse for almost a year, he is blind in one eye (track accident) and was severely underweight. He was a rescue and my aim is to try to make up for all the years of neglect that he went through. He was kept in a dirty stall w/ no turnout due to his eye. When I first got him he was extremely food aggressive, understandably, and had tons of trust issues. Now I can hug his butt while he is eating and hold his head. He is really sweet and I do not want to lose him after all the time and FOOD we have gone through! Thanks for the responses!


          • #6
            My mare was diagnosed with lymphangitis as a result of infection from scratches this past May. We caught within 24 hours, thank God, and so her case wasn't too severe. Treated with oral antibiotics, cold hosing, handwalking, and furacin sweats. Within 7 days the leg was back to normal and I was riding lightly within 2 weeks.

            I have not had a recurrence since, but I am VERY careful with her now because it can so easily become chronic. If it is wet or muddy she does not get turned out--her scratches MUST stay dry and I won't risk another infection.

            If she has to stay in for more than 24 hrs I wrap all the way around--she is much more prone to stocking up now--in back because of lymphangitis, in front because of cellulitis that popped up a month after the lymphangitis.

            Diligent management has been to prevention, at least in my case.


            • #7
              My mare went through a bout of it 4 years ago and knock on wood it has never happened again. The only thing that remains to remind us of what happened is that she will stock really bad on that hind leg if she is stalled for an extended period of time.
              "You are under arrest for operating your mouth under the influence of
              ignorance!" Officer Beck


              • #8
                A friend of mine had a horse with chronic lymphangitis, the horse had flare ups off and on for a number of years, when the horse was in remission, she competed and did quite well in the local hunters. The horse unfortunately due to many weeks off and on stall rest ultimately developed heaves, she was retired but well into her 20's.


                • #9
                  Yep, got one with chronic lymphangitis here. Sound, and happy as a clam. Yes, his leg is chronically enlarged and he lives in back wraps. Otherwise, still jumping around and he doing great. Has had the condition for 5 years.


                  • #10
                    Use a therapy laser/LED

                    I have had great resluts using a therapy laser on cellulitis/lymphangitis. Rent one and see if it helps.
                    I am sure it will.
                    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                    New edition of book is out:
                    Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                    • #11
                      My horse had a sudden outbreak of lymphangitis about a month ago. One of his hind legs puffed up and was oozing puss through the skin...not through a cut/puncture. There were also 2 smaller swellings on his belly that were oozing which we thought were strange. He was completely sound and acting 100% normal.

                      My regular vet was on vaca. so another vet came out to see him that evening. He chalked it up to a Lyme disease flare up and initially thought
                      it was Erlichiosis but due to a lack of other symptoms ruled the Erlichiosis out
                      Apparently he has seen this problem show up as a lyme symptom as well? We pulled a lyme test. So we started him immediately on oral Doxy. I cold hosed and cleaning the skin with a gentle antibacterial soap. In 48 hours the swelling was completely gone. Both this vet and my regular vet decided he should be treated for lyme and that is what we are doing. It's been a month and there have been no reoccurrences and he has remained sound. We are treating him for lyme since he tested with a very high positive but I am beginning to think perhaps he had some strange allergic reaction. Why else would have swellings on his belly too?

                      The lymphangitis left crusty scabs on the leg and it looked like a bad case of rain rot. It took weeks of careful cleansing and removing the dead scabs to rid him of them. He still has a dandruff type residue on the skin from the outbreak. Is this typical of lymphangitis??


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LookinSouth View Post
                        My horse had a sudden outbreak of lymphangitis about a month ago. One of his hind legs puffed up and was oozing puss through the skin...not through a cut/puncture.

                        ....The lymphangitis left crusty scabs on the leg and it looked like a bad case of rain rot. It took weeks of careful cleansing and removing the dead scabs to rid him of them. He still has a dandruff type residue on the skin from the outbreak. Is this typical of lymphangitis??
                        This sounds like the experience that I had with my guy. His entire right hind quadrant was effected - right hind leg was swollen up like an elephant's. As the vet explained it me, his skin was being stretched to and beyond the breaking point - I saw a lot of oozing for weeks, from the stifle down to the hoof. Even after the scabs were gone, his skin on that leg remained dry and flaky, especially from the hock down, where the damage was the worst. I've decided that's one thing that he and I can live with - his skin is so sensitive on that leg that I've very careful about what I treat it with.

                        One other thing that I discovered is that his skin on the right hind (again, esp. from the hock down) is like tissue paper. I've learned to be VERY gentle with that leg: no rubbing with a towel, no picking of anything (like a scab), etc. When he does get any kind of wound on that leg, I treat it very agressively to try and avoid the possibility of infection.

                        Again, you may not have this problem with your horse - my boy's case of lymphangitis was pretty extreme - just wanted to share what I've learned in case it helps.
                        In memory of Rebuff (1974-2009)

                        Rest in peace, my sweet man


                        • #13
                          I also had an extreme story that is (knock on wood) doing very well, meaning not even a a vet could tell there is somthing wrong.

                          My horse got cellulitis from a navicular cavity injection. After three weeks he suddenly developed vasculitis in all four legs within 3 hrs of the first one beginning to swell. Vet was thinking staph, but of course once it traveled to the sencond leg he was thinking lyme. Later that night he was diagnoses with a text book case of vasculitis. He countinued on antiboitics for 4 weeks and was given dexamethazone starting with a 40 mL iv dose and cutting the dose in half every other day until 5 mL. His fence post hind legs and watermelon knees retruned to normal size in 4 days due to the steroids, but the serum scalding caused by the ooozing took around 6 weeks of light cleaning with baby shampoo (only thing that wouldn't bring the swelling back in an hour). The rupture site on the back of the pastern took about 5 months to heal although the skin there will always be a scab like covering.

                          He had 3 reoccurances during the first 2 months I believe this is because the body was reacting to any bacteria that would get in all of his open wounds and the immune system would go back into "beat cellulitis" mode! This is why he had to say on antibotics so long. He went through 6 different types of antiboitics.

                          Here is the important part though: as others have stated before, scratches can cause a relapse, and be made even worse it attempting the treat the scratches with water ie: betadine scrubing. Here is what has worked for my horse: every time he gets the tiniest bit of swelling in his bad leg, I cover his old scab/scar with animax and then fugazinc oxide ointment. Since as he moves he can tear away bits of the old scab/scar it allows bacteria to enter and his immune system starts to freak out again. Putting on this ointment has so far always gotten the filling gone in 24 hrs before his immune system goes attacking healthy cells again.

                          Other things I done: biopulse boot from response lazer (made it worse during active healing, but done wonders for getting the leg back to a normal size once there was no open sores. Cold lazer (same as above), Ice can be counter productive for this condition, if no heat in leg it is likely a lymphagitis flare up, use heat to help the leg circulate the accumulating waste. At his most sensitive time he the only ointment he could tolerate with out a flare up was silver-something-zone cream available through a vet, it is an antibacterial and it is used on human burn victims.

                          Good luck, and YES, with superb managment a horse with this can have a full athletic career and life.
                          PS in my experience the steriod therapy was what saved my horses legs. They are tighter now than they were before going through three seperate treatments. But this is not right for every horse, but needed in my horses cause to prevent kidney failure. Good luck!!!!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lovemyoldguy View Post
                            Again, you may not have this problem with your horse - my boy's case of lymphangitis was pretty extreme - just wanted to share what I've learned in case it helps.
                            It does sound your horse's case was more severe but nevertheless thanks for sharing your experiences! I am just glad to know that what I experienced is not out of the ordinary with lymphangitis. I can only hope that he doesn't have any reoccurrences.


                            • #15
                              My 28-year TB old went through a very nasty bout of it back in January - couldn't walk, temp 104, swollen from hoof all the way up his stifle - found him out in his pasture that way and he was fine that morning when I turned him out with my mare. Vet came right out and we treated him very aggressively. There was so much oozing from his lower part of his leg - it took weeks to get his leg healed up. Unfortunately he had another bout last week - thankfully his temp only hit 102 (still high I know but not as high as last time), his leg blew up completely again. I called my vet, got antibiotics and he's much better this week. I start to wonder now how often this will happen as he is older . My goal at this point is to just make sure he's comfortable...

                              "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


                              • #16
                                My elderly TB mare had a classic case of it and it resolved very nicely. The only leftover was a tendency for her to stock up behind when I stalled her, so I used standing wraps.

                                Support the immune system as best you can!


                                • #17
                                  My 4 year old is in the clinic right now being treated for lymphangitis. I was a day late in getting treatment. The first day I noticed a tiny swelling and a little bump on the hind cannon bone, and thought she had just banged herself. The next morning, the whole leg from hock to below ankle was blown up. Icing and poltice did nothing. Today I took her to the clinic, thinking I had a soft tissue injury. Ultrasound showed there was a problem with fluid pockets. They were able to do a Lyme test right away, and she was high positive, so they are treating her for Lyme. I've been researching, and I could not find a tie-in to Lyme and Lymphangitis except for what one poster on this thread said.

                                  I decided to keep her at the clinic in order to get IV, at least for a couple of days. Now, I am wondering if it is the Lyme causing the problem or if that is just a unrelated problem. It is amazing how quickly this disease can progress. By the time I left the clinic, the swelling had gone up to her groin and there were a series of hard lumps/bumps inside the thigh. That may be ulcerative lymphagitis??? (I've been googling).

                                  I have dealt with the milder lymphangitis in the lower limbs as a result of scratches. I find that clears up really quick with Naxcel and wrapping with meds. What I have now is not due to scratches.

                                  I'm pretty sure my horse is getting iv tetracycline, and now I wonder if she shouldn't be getting Naxcel. I won't know more until tomorrow.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ToN Farm View Post
                                    I've been researching, and I could not find a tie-in to Lyme and Lymphangitis except for what one poster on this thread said.


                                    I have treated two of my horses for lyme in the past. Because of this I have done alot research online and talked to multiple vets. I really was SHOCKED when the vet suspected the lymphangitis was linked to a lyme flare up. I too have never read nor heard of any connection between the two. That said, this vet practices in CT and said he has had multiple cases where this has happened. In addition, my own vet agreed with his diagnosis.

                                    FWIW, Lymphangitis or swelling of the limbs is a very common symptom of Erlichiosis. Erlichiosis a tick borne disease like lyme.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by LookinSouth
                                      FWIW, Lymphangitis or swelling of the limbs is a very common symptom of Erlichiosis. Erlichiosis a tick borne disease like lyme.
                                      Yes, but from what I've read, horses Erlichiosis are said to have high fevers and mine didn't. I think there is maybe not enough data on these diseases to say what symptoms the disease causes. Probably many horses have tick borne diseases that never get treated and some maybe even die. Let's face it, not everyone spends thousands of dollars on treatment for sick horses. My concern is that my mare get the right antibiotic for what ailes her.

                                      Have you noted that there isn't much out there insofar as information on Lymphangitis. It's good to come here and share our personal stories.

                                      Can anyone tell me if the oral Doxy is palatable? Getting a horse on a small amount of grain to eat that many pills for a month is going to be a challenge.


                                      • #20
                                        my horse got lymphangitis last fall and he fully recovered and was almost 100% better w/in just 2 days of treatment....i caught it very early on-so my vet told me that was a big bonus in recovering....but basically he seemed pretty dull/lethargic and then i noticed him dragging his hind legs a little when he would move at the trot,and when i watched him canter...he couldn't hold a lead w/out swapping behind,then breaking back to the trot before his hind end would almost fall under himself.....that's when i knew something was really wrong-he had a 104 fever as well. I took him to the vet clinic-they took blood ,and a blood smear confirmed that he had a certain type of organism which even further indicated lymphangitis,along w/ increased wbc's etc,and the vets said very high up in his groin area was starting to swell,and was burning hot to the touch.

                                        They gave him an injection of an antibiotic called Oxytet,an injection of dex and sent me home to put him on doxycycline,dex,and naquazone.....he was almost completely better after just a day or two of treatment,and by the end of the week he was completely back to normal and back in work and showing.
                                        R.I.P. "Henry" 4/22/05 - 3/26/2010 We loved you so much....gone but NEVER FORGOTTEN...i hope we meet again