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Bizarre, reoccurring fever - help needed

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  • Bizarre, reoccurring fever - help needed

    First off - let me say that vets are working on this, but have not been of help so far - so hopefully this rings a bell with someone.

    About 5 weeks ago my 2 yr old TB colt in training presented with a high (103.5) fever and diarrhea. Treated with Banamine and Tetracycline as a possible PHF case for 5 days. Symptomes were gone with 36 hours.

    About 12 days ago he broke with scours again and a low grade fever (101.5). Vets were not concerned. Treated with probios, ulcerguard, etc. He was taken off alfalfa and cut back his sweet feed. Started him on horsie peptol-bismol. Fever went away quickly - poo firmed up to normal over a 10 day period and remains normal.

    Yesterday mid-day he breaks with a fever of 105.5. Track vet gived banamine only. I consult another vet who gives 25cc BID Procane Penicillin, 25cc daily of Gentocin and 12 tabs BID of Metronidiazole and says pull bloods. Fever completely disappears w/in 2 hours. Although this morning was at 103.5 (banamine given again).

    Just got back CBC, Fibrinogen and Chem panel and everything is 99% fine!!! 2nd vet says calcium is a tad low and there are 2 "bands" on the bloodwork - but nothing looks dire. She suggests re-treating for PHF - but that a second round could hut his kidneys and we will need to pull chem panels quite frequently to monitor. However, if it is GI related I don't want to continue on anti-biotics, as racehorses need all the gut flora they can get.

    Last dose of banamine was 11 hours ago and he is holding steady at about 100.8. I'm tempted to let him ride overnight w/o another dose of banamine and re-evaluate in the am. I'll have to wait until then to get the tetracycline anyhow.

    Odd things - the colt is very gassy and sometimes shows symptoms of light colic which subside with a good fart. He has also started nibbling on his poo despite having hay 24/7.

    Any suggestions??? We're pulling our hair out trying to figure this one out.

    ps - no cough, runny nose, runny eyes. Current on vaccinations and worming. When he doesn't have a fever (and even with loose poo) he is a HANDFUL and feels great. On a moderately high fat, lower starch feed. Hays is free choice timothy. He receives electrolytes in his feed. Drinks normal amounts of water.
    Last edited by tmo0hul; Oct. 31, 2008, 10:24 PM.
  • Original Poster

    **Sigh** just took temp again and it's up to 102.8. Out to give more banamine and see if I can get tetracycline tonight...


    • #3
      When one of our horses had 8 days of fever, our vet brought in a medicine specialist and talked with a second medicine specialist at the vet hospital. They did an echocardiogram and ultrasound of the lungs because they thought he might have an abscess in his lungs or infection around his heart. They did not find anything on the ultrasound.

      If the horse were a human child, blood and urine would be cultured to look for odd infections. Humans are prone to all kinds of weird reactions (e.g, autoimmune disease, cancers) that cause fevers. There is even a diagnosis called FUO; which stands for fever of unknown origin, meaning no one can figure out what is causing the fever. I have no idea if horses get things like that.


      • #4
        Has he had a Coggins pulled really recently?


        • #5
          Sounds like Potomac Horse Fever, Have they checked for that?


          • #6
            Relapsing/remitting fevers always make me think "tick borne" until proven otherwise.
            Click here before you buy.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by AKB View Post
              When one of our horses had 8 days of fever, our vet brought in a medicine specialist and talked with a second medicine specialist at the vet hospital. They did an echocardiogram and ultrasound of the lungs because they thought he might have an abscess in his lungs or infection around his heart. They did not find anything on the ultrasound.
              What was were you treating him with while the vets were scratching their heads - just banamine to manage the fever?

              I've been through fever for a abscess in a lung before with another horse - that presents\ed differently. Her fever was constant and she thought she was dying. This colt only acts droopy when the fever sets in. Once the banamine hits he's back to normal - usually w/in an hour.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
                Has he had a Coggins pulled really recently?
                Absolutely - he's a TB in training, so he had one pulled w/in last 6 months. Had Rhino vac 3 months ago


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Diamond Jake View Post
                  Sounds like Potomac Horse Fever, Have they checked for that?
                  That is what I thought 5 weels ago - as he presented with severe diarrhea. He was treated w/tetracycline for 5 days thinking that could be it. (The standard treatment for PHF). Can PHF re-appear?? I thought maybe but the more I am thinking about it I think maybe not. PHF presents w/fever and diarrhea. If anything his manure was slightly on the dry side tonight.


                  • #10
                    We had him on doxycycline, then IV tetracycline, as well as banamine while the vets "scratched their heads." He developed all kinds of other issues, such as generalized swelling and nose bleeds/low platelets. Unfortunately, he also developed laminitis, which was not manageable. In retrospect, I believe that he was eating alfalfa cubes that were contaminated by the hoary alyssum weed, and that was the cause of all of his problems. Unfortunately, I did not save the bags of cubes and get them tested.

                    Prolonged fevers are frustrating because you really need to find out the cause, and it isn't always easy to figure out.


                    • Original Poster

                      AKB - did you see any adverse effects from the Doxy on his gut? Reading through things - doxy will treat PHF as well as Lyme. Maybe go after two things at once...


                      • #12
                        He was fine with the doxycycline, but he had a gut of steel. I never found anything that he didn't enjoy eating (Halloween candy, pony club children's lunches), and he never had an upset stomach.


                        • #13
                          Do horses get brucellosis? When I was a child, that was called "Undulant fever" because the fever came & went (undulated), but I don't know if horses can get it or only cows, goats & people. People used to get it a lot, back before most milk was pasteurized.


                          • Original Poster

                            **AARRGGHH** I'm tired of vets! This morning he had a temp of 104. A bit droopy - but nibbling on hay, drinking, passing manure, etc.

                            Called vet out - he wanted us to wait on banamaine till he got there. 2 hours later - still no vet - temp 105.2. In goes the banamine.

                            Vet gets there an hour later. Bute and tetracycline in hand (this is a 3rd vet now - could not get vet #2 to answer the phone this am). I have yesterday's bloodwork in hand. He goes straight for his neck to inject. Wait! I want you to at least LOOK at the horse before shoving meds in him!!!

                            Conversation as follows between me and vet:
                            (me) what are you giving him?
                            (Vet) tetracycline (I already knew by the color but asked anyhow).
                            why that drug?
                            He's got a virus he says - that's why the very high temp
                            So tetracycline is an anti-viral? (I know it's not, but ask anyhow)
                            No - it's an antibiotic
                            So he has a bacterial infection?
                            No - it's viral
                            So why give him antibiotics?
                            Because that is the treatment
                            (My head is spinning now because this vet sounds like a moron)
                            (Me) If it won't kill the virus what is the benefit of pouring more antibiotics in him?
                            To help with the secondary infection.
                            What seconday infection? His bloodwork came back almost normal? (Hand him results)
                            Those are not normal results he says after reading them
                            Why not?
                            Because they aren't.

                            I had to walk away. I was so mad. I allowed the tetracycline only because of the possibility of PHF - and that is the treatment if that is what it is. I had to laugh at the secondray infection though - his WBC count was absolutely normal.

                            Long story short - vet is not concerned with a recurrent 105.5 fever as it is a virus that he is fighting - but we'll give him antibiotics to help him fight it off...


                            • #15
                              Brucella is one of the bugs that can cause wither fistulas in horses.
                              Click here before you buy.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                Relapsing/remitting fevers always make me think "tick borne" until proven otherwise.
                                Agreed. I've seen it happen a lot living in tick central. Has he been tested for them? I thought the protocol for tick-borne illness was a lot longer then 5 days? I know you were doing the 5 day suspecting PHF, but if it also may be (or alternatively may be tick related), I would think it would call for longer therapy.

                                FWIW, I had a horse deal with a nearly two year battle with Lyme and the reason it lingered so long was because the initial diagnosis was "viral" based on the high fever, delaying appropriate treatment and allowing the Lyme to really get established.


                                • #17
                                  erchliosis, is transmitted by ticks

                                  I have had 2 horses get this and the symptoms were like your horse. there was a specifc treatment/antibiotic used Don't recall the name now.
                                  *Every horse is a self-portrait of the rider....Autograph your work with excellence.*
                                  Supporting Nokotas www.nokotahorse.org
                                  Lipizzan's rock! http://rigitta.blogspot.com/


                                  • #18
                                    Jingles for your boy.
                                    I\'m not crazy. I\'m just a little unwell.


                                    • #19
                                      Tetracycline is also the treatment for tick borne stuff. The longest we've used it was 7 days, with no ill effects. We did once have a horse that spiked a fever and was treated twice within a month? or 6 wks--both times responded quickly, and after the second time was fine. Good luck with yours. It's scary when temps get that high.


                                      • #20
                                        I feel your pain and frustration .... I did almost 2 years of the 'intermittent fever of unknown origin' dance. Never did get a conclusive diagnosis, since we got de-railed by having to treat for EPM and colic surgery. After being in the hospital for 12 days on IV antibiotics post-surgery, there has been no more fever. (I do not recommend this as a treatment option .... )

                                        "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                                        - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926