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Frustrated and heartbroken - very sick horse UPDATE #37 - Strangles !

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Roxyllsk View Post
    I'm frustrated that the BO did several things wrong, and I'm also frustrated that this horse was likely sick for some time before I found him. By my estimation, he didn't eat his hay for at least 3 feedings - that alone *should* have set off an alarm, but it didn't. The flakes of hay were not even picked at, but still perfectly flake-shaped, and this horse is generaly a good eater. Perhaps if this had been caught earlier, this horse wouldn't be as sick as he is.
    Yep, there's a good bet that he would not be nearly as sick if his choke was caught and addressed earlier. A day and a half plus is a LONG time for a horse to be choked. And yes, the BO did several things wrong, but all those things about the purchase of the other horse probably have *nothing* to do with this horse being sick.

    So try to not go all HULK SMASH! on the BO when she returns It's not her fault the horse choked...she wasn't even there...and hopefully the other feeders have learned something, or if not, they can be let go as feeders. And since the horse had been working on an aspiration pneumonia for over 24 hours, I wouldn't even consider strangles as a cause for the swollen lymph nodes unless other strangles symptoms popped up.


    • #22
      Originally posted by Roxyllsk View Post
      I'm also frustrated that this horse was likely sick for some time before I found him.
      Yeah, but its not the BO's fault that her feeders didnt pick up on it. I mean, it is and it isnt. She should hire barn staff that knows what to look for but really, it is what it is. I dont think you are really in a position to "tell her off" I do think she should compensate you for your extra time, effort, and worries while her horse has been sick but in all fairness, you really cant tell that the new horse really caused her horse to get sick. Its probably all from the choke, which isnt due to the new horse not being kept away. AND she only put her horse at immediate risk (of course anything can spread). I would, however, call her and "ruin" her vacation and let her know whats going on because its a pain for you and extra work.

      Also, who cares if she is silly and buys horses off the internet. Thats her business.

      Just move as soon as you can and be done with it all


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
        It's not her fault the horse choked...she wasn't even there...and hopefully the other feeders have learned something, or if not, they can be let go as feeders. And since the horse had been working on an aspiration pneumonia for over 24 hours, I wouldn't even consider strangles as a cause for the swollen lymph nodes unless other strangles symptoms popped up.
        It's not the BO's fault that the horse choked, but it *is* her responsibility to hire/use barn help that is experienced enough to recognize a horse not eating as a potentially serious problem. That's very, very basic in my book.

        And it's not likely the feeder is going to get fired as he is a relative of the BO and is paying off a favor by feeding.

        So, my choice is pretty much to shut up & accept it, or to move. I've found a few places that I'm looking into right now, and as I said, I won't move until I'm sure that my horse is not going to spread anything.

        I'm not planning on going balistic on her, but I am going to have a pretty honest discussion with her. I was actually supposed to help her ride/evaluate this new horse, but that is not going to happen. She made the choice on her own to buy this horse, so she can deal with him without my help.


        • #24
          Originally posted by Roxyllsk View Post
          It's not the BO's fault that the horse choked, but it *is* her responsibility to hire/use barn help that is experienced enough to recognize a horse not eating as a potentially serious problem. That's very, very basic in my book.
          YES. Exactly. THIS is the problem. The problem is not that the BO bought a horse sight unseen off a video. The problem is not that she chose to not fully quarantine the horse. The problem is not that the other horse has swollen glands. The problem is not even that she decided to take a vacation shortly after it's arrival.

          The problem here is that a horse didn't touch his hay for three feedings and no one prior to you had noticed that. Bring that up with the barn owner. The rest is not at all relevant.


          • Original Poster

            Update: Vet came out today for another exam and to give the 2nd antibiotic shot.

            Horse is doing better, he still has fluid in his lungs but is better than Friday. Cough is still there but not as frequent as Friday. No fever Saturday, Sunday and again today.

            The lymph nodes are still very swollen, actually mostly the one on the right. The vet
            took nasal swabs for testing. Neither of us are sure if the BO is going to want to
            pay for it, so the vet is holding them until she hears from me or BO tomorrow
            (BO is coming home tonight). She's going to test for both stangles and EVH1.

            She also thinks the horse needs to be scoped. As we were watching him in turnout
            he took a big drink and water came out of both nostrils. Not a huge amount, but some
            which is not right. The vet does not have a scope so could not do it today, and
            honestly I'm not sure if the BO is going to pay for this. I will tell her this tonight and
            let her make the decision. I know of 2 other local vets that can do this, or she can
            take the horse to the clinic.

            I am going to push and push very hard to have the tests run and the scoping done - but neither is really my call.

            And let me be clear, if this were my horse, she'd be on her way to the clinic as we speak to have the scope done. But, it's not and I can't say if she'd do it or not. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to pay to have the labs done anyway, even if the BO does not because my horse has been exposed.

            I asked the vet if she thinks that this could be a virus that caused the lymph nodes
            to swell and the horse to choke. She think it's very likely, but no way to know for
            sure without the lab tests.

            Edited to add: The lab results came back positive for strangles today.
            Last edited by Roxyllsk; Mar. 8, 2013, 03:41 PM.


            • #26
              Fluid in his lungs?!?
              McDowell Racing Stables

              Home Away From Home


              • #27
                Or a pocketing in the esophagus...


                • #28
                  what a mess. I hope things turn out to be okay and you can get the heck outta there. Do you have a place lined up to go?


                  • Original Poster

                    I have a few options but I'm not moving my horse until I know she's not
                    going to pass anything along. She has no symptoms, no fever, no snotty nose,
                    and no swollen lymph nodes. But it's not worth the risk as we don't know what
                    is going on just yet.

                    Vet thinks the poor guy has pnuemonia, but he is responding to the meds. So yes, he
                    has congestion/fluid in his lungs.

                    This whole mess is keeping me up at night, that's for sure.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                      Or a pocketing in the esophagus...
                      I'm going to push the BO hard to have the scope done. But ultimately it's not my wallet, it's hers.


                      • #31
                        Ugh, choke sucks.

                        We had our mini mare choke last fall (well meaning neighbor with carrot + greedy mini = choke) She was not a happy camper.

                        She choked on the one evening my vet was out of town so I had to bring her an hour away to the clinic to have her tubed to try to pass the hunk of stuck carrot. Very nerve wracking!

                        Had her scoped after tubing to see what was up and there floating in her stomach was a big chunk of orange nasty. :P I've never been so happy to see the contents of a horses stomach!

                        She was put on antibiotics as a precaution and was back to her greedy self in a couple of days.

                        My point? This horse needs to be scoped like yesterday. I hope for his sake the owner is willing to do this for him. Water coming from his nostrils when drinking is not good!


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                          Okay, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it frowned upon to give antibiotics prior to any strangles abscess rupturing for fear of bastard strangles??
                          Yes it is. When my 2 got it at the same time I wanted the vet to give them something (on the 2 occasions I had him out) and he advised against it and said for me to just hang in there. Bastard strangles can be so much worse than normal strangles.

                          My horse & mule had an extremely high fever with their strangles, both were more lethargic than normal, but neither she nor the mule ever stopped eating completely and neither had a cough. Maybe the horse in question has something else going on as suggested.


                          • #33
                            The horse in question has aspiration pneumonia after choking so needs the antibiotics.

                            He may or may not have strangles.


                            • Original Poster

                              Yep, jury is out about the strangles. As I said, I trust my vet and am following
                              her instructions.

                              He's tucked in for the night with a buddy in the barn ... I left a message
                              on the machine at the house, and also put a note on the door to call
                              me tonight when they get home.

                              We'll see what happens, but I've done all I can for this little guy at this point.


                              • #35
                                I just want to say, thank goodness this little guy had you. He would likely be dead or close to it by now if you had not taken over. We're jingling for him as he fights aspiration pneumonia. That's a nasty thing to fight.
                                "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp


                                • Original Poster

                                  Another update - just got off the phone with the BO. She did call me when
                                  she got home at 2am as her flight was delayed. She asked if we could
                                  have this dicussion in the morning, and I told her yes but to talk to me
                                  before she goes out to feed.

                                  I explained what happend with the horse factually and calmly. Then after
                                  I went through everything, I told her that her little horse may/may not have
                                  been exposed to something through the new horse, and that it was imperative
                                  to have the samples tested to rule out some serious illnesses that the whole
                                  farm has been exposed to.

                                  She agreed to have the tests run (so yahooo!!!!). I've already called my
                                  vet and told her to send the samples off.

                                  I also explained to her that the horse needs to be scoped to find out what
                                  is going on - that this is just a diagnostic tool, and additional expenses
                                  may be incurred depending on what they find. And that it needs to happen

                                  She agreed to have the scope done. BO is going to make that appt with
                                  another local vet.

                                  I also pointed out that I know the help was trying to be 'helpful' but since
                                  they don't really know horses, they didn't pick up on some important clues
                                  about a sick horse. I've actually spoken to the help myself about this
                                  (and not in a nasty way), and this person feels terrible that these signs
                                  were missed.

                                  The BO feels terrible about what has happened. She did say she really
                                  didn't want to put out any more $ on the litte guy as he is for sale, but
                                  I think I made it very clear how important these additional steps are.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Another update:

                                    A 2nd vet that has a scope examined the horse today.

                                    He also believes that the horse choked because of the enlarged lymph
                                    lymph nodes causing a restriction. (the first vet thinks this as well).

                                    He also aspirated fluid from the lymph nodes and said it looked like
                                    'strangles pus' to him. He is reasonably sure that it is strangles.
                                    The swab test taken by the first vet is at the state vet now and
                                    we should get confirmation tomorrow.

                                    The good news is that the sick little horse will likely make a full recovery.


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Roxyllsk View Post
                                      Also, my horse gets the strangles vaccination every year and has for the last 15? or so years. BO does not give this vaccine to any of hers. I am hopeful that my mare will not get sick.
                                      Doesn't necessarily mean your horse won't get it, and actually puts your horse at higher risk for purpura hemorrhagica, a serious side effect of strangles common in older horses that have been exposed before/have had the vaccine.

                                      Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                                      Okay, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it frowned upon to give antibiotics prior to any strangles abscess rupturing for fear of bastard strangles??
                                      Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                                      Yes, very ill-advised to give antibiotics to a horse that might have strangles. So I hope the vet does not really suspect it.
                                      This is currently widely debated among vets. When my horse developed the disease from an outbreak at a barn that had endemic strangles that I was not told existed, we (meaning myself and multiple vets) decided to immediately treat with IM penicillin shots twice a day, prior to any indication of abscesses in the gutteral pouch. The BO tried to step in because he had an irrational fear of bastard strangles and did not "allow" any horses to be treated with penicillin. My horse developed purpura, so the vets & I told the BO to eff off, we were treating with penicillin anyway. Needless to say, I moved the second my horses swabbed clean. Some people take the bastard strangles fear to phobia level.

                                      Originally posted by Roxyllsk View Post
                                      I also explained to her that the horse needs to be scoped to find out what
                                      is going on - that this is just a diagnostic tool, and additional expenses
                                      may be incurred depending on what they find. And that it needs to happen
                                      The fact that you need to explain this (among other things) to a BARN OWNER responsible for the care of others' horses scares me to death.


                                      • #39
                                        So correct me if I'm wrong -- the update to the thread title with "Strangles" and an exclamation point are based not on test results but on a vet who apparently can tell one kind of pus from another?

                                        Twice I have had a horse present all classic symptoms of strangles, including a huge abscess in exactly the "right" spot. It wasn't strangles either time. Once it was strep zo, the other time it was an infected splinter (right over a lymph node).
                                        Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                                        • #40
                                          Bastard strangles is not caused by use of antibiotics.
                                          It is a seeding of the causative organism to lymphatic tissue outside the respiratory system.
                                          Giving antibiotics in an uncomplicated case of strangles might slow the maturation of abscesses which have begun to form, thus slowing the resolution of the infection, so it's frequently advised against.
                                          "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                          ...just settin' on the Group W bench.