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question on lyme test results

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  • question on lyme test results

    friend's mare was recently tested for lyme, first time ever, and the vet says the results came back positive.
    is it true that most horses in the areas affected by lyme will test positive and if so, how can you tell whether the positive results mean an ongoing active infection or prior exposure?
    TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

  • #2
    I am being tested myself this week for LD so am researching the subject.
    Not really sure how it works for horses - but for humans - if the test is antibody test - it has IGG and IGM. As I understand it IGM appears first - fades as times goes by - and IGG shows up about a month after infection. Now - don't quote me on this because I am still confused about the testing. See if you can get a copy of the test - values etc.
    Really - labwork is so confusing. For humans the testing can be unreliable - so I am using a special lab. Are things better testing for horses? I have considered having my horse tested as well. We often ride in the woods.


    • #3
      I do believe that in areas where Lyme is common, most horses will have some antibodies present. I usually go by the titer. Is it a very high positive, or just borderline? Is the horse showing any symptoms? My gelding was just treated with IV tetracycline for 21 days only a few months ago. His titer was a definite positive, and he had many symptoms. Brushing his front feet together often while walking. NOT going forward under saddle. Tripped up front and fell to his knees one day. I had the vet out the next afternoon. We began treatment a few days later. All of those symptoms disappeared. Now we are happily back to normal going VERY forward.


      • #4
        Test results mean different things depending on which test and if the horse has symptoms. If the horse has a positive lyme titer and has symptoms (like skin sensitivity, shifting lameness, depression, nappyness, spookiness or other symptoms known for lyme disease) that they did not have before, other issues have been ruled out and the vet thinks you should treat the horse, then give it a shot. So many horses in northern NJ have had it, including one of mine! The test is not totally definitive, it is just a diagnostic tool.


        • Original Poster

          i guess no clear answer on this one

          she did put her on tetracycline. but the vet only gave her 7 or 10 day supply. dwblover, your horse got 21 days?

          this mare's 'symptoms' included weight and muscle, and most recently a cough and snotty nose following a workout. the symptoms began this summer (without the cough and snot). the mare is 20 years old. i guess we'll wait and see if it helps.

          TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


          • #6
            Did they do a Western Blot? The number in that will indicate an active infection. My mares symptoms were intermittent lameness, mood change, reaction to being touched. And my mare went on Doxy for 3 months, her titer was positive but not sky high, but her body symptoms and the Western blot were enought to warrant treatment.


            • #7
              Over the summer I had a situation with Lyme with my gelding.

              All of a sudden he seemed very sluggish and didn't want to move around at all.

              Took the lyme test (as well as epm since his one side of his lip was hanging lower) and they both came back positive. While waiting for the results we started the meds for the lyme right away and within days he had a positive reaction to them, he was on them for a month (that was a joy getting him to eat them).

              But yes, most horses will test positive to lyme.


              • #8
                I don't think most horses will test positive for lyme, meaning that its something to just ho hum about.
                Lyme is a serious disease and if left untreated can cause neurological problems and other irreversible conditions.
                Cornell does test. If the result comes back positive, they do a western blot, or its the other way around. Either way, the results are easy enough to understand.
                Other places test as well, but have different values for the antibodies present.
                I had five horses test positive last summer. I had another 3 tested and they came back negative, and I had them given the lyme vaccine(off label).

                I will need to retest the five and from what I understand, you need to tell them when they were last treated. For the vaccinated horses, you need to tell them the horses were vaccinated, and they can tell if its lyme or the antibodies from the vaccine.

                Lyme in itself is a mysterious disease imo. All five of my horses presented differently. Some had lamness, others attitude, one had mini impactions colic like symtoms. After diagnosis, I realized their 'depressed' attitude was a result of the lyme.
                I also had two colic on the doxy. I no longer look at my fields as a friendly place, but one full of disease via the tick. Kind of sad.
                save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                • #9
                  I could be wrong, but......

                  The vaccine is a modified live vaccine which means you inject a small amount of the actual virus which means once vaccinated they can test positive for the antibodies. The antibodies of the vaccine are the same as the antibodies of the disease, I don't think the test can differentiate between the vaccine and the actual disease. Again, I could be wrong. I know in dogs the vaccine can actually cause the disease. Nasty disease yet nasty vaccine.
                  To ride or not to ride; what a stupid question!


                  • #10
                    I tested for lymes on a gelding I had who had repeated lameness and other issues. Turned out he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, same syptoms. Treatment was the same, lots of antibodies for 30 days. The lab even questioned what are the syptoms?


                    • #11
                      When I test for Lyme, I ask for the Titer, if the Titer comes back below 300, Cornell automatically does the Western Blot.

                      I have 11 horses here on the property 4 have been tested for Lyme:

                      1. Morgan Titer came back 900+ - no western blot done, on Doxy for 4 months along with a Herbal Liver Support

                      2. Belgian Colt Titer came back 735 - no western blot done, owner treated with Doxy for 2 month

                      3. Oldenberg Titer came back 180 - western blot came back negative, no treatment

                      4. QH Titer came back 120 - western blot came back negative.

                      So I wonder as someone else mentioned, do they all have some antibodies? This year the ticks were non existent (Orange County, NY) til October and then WOW they came out in full force. I'd go riding in the state park and end up pulling about 20 crawling ticks off each dog and horse. Then next few days pulling ticks that were embedded off same dogs/horses.

                      Horses in fields were probably getting 5 - 8 ticks pulled off of them every day.

                      No ticks now for a few weeks, than this past Sunday it was 65 here in NY - just pulled 2 ticks off one of the Boxers yesterday.....

                      What is the evolutionary purpose of the damn tick? I hate to kill anything, but ticks, mosquitos and biting flies are all fair game!



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Coobie View Post
                        I know in dogs the vaccine can actually cause the disease. Nasty disease yet nasty vaccine.
                        Which is why LYMErix (human vaccine) was pulled from the market. Having suffered with LD and a host of other tick borne illnesses for 10+ years, I would not give the vaccine to any of my animals.
                        Ridge Farm Inc.-full care retirement


                        • #13
                          My boarder's horse has Lymes and I've been giving him Tetrycyline, 25ml via the IV every day for 30 days.....
                          The Galloping Grape
                          Warrenton, VA


                          • #14
                            We are in a hot spot where Lyme and Ehrlichia go hand in hand. The disease is called Lyme, after the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified. It is not called Lymes.

                            I have the vet draw one blood sample per horse, run the W. blot first, and then get the titer if the blot comes up positive. It is not unusual for horses to score in the 1: 4,000 or 1:5,000 range, and some go well into the 1:23.000 or even 1: 48,000 range. Some are symptomatic with the lowest titers, others are sky high with no signs at all. Because of where the horses live, many get it every few years. If I didn't fly spray heavily with a Tick killing spray (TriTech 14, Super Flysect, etc) from March to December, I would be treating it every 14 months or so. Spookiness, sensitivity to touch, grumpiness, intermittant lameness have been our problems. I have never had weight, muscle, coughing or snotty nose issues showing up with this, and suspect that you may also have something else going on as well. Doxy is a broad spectrum antibiotic, and may also be used to cover some of those bases as well. Uniprim or Tucoprim would proibably be prescribed for the respiratory problems, but wouldn't do much for the Lyme.

                            If your vet will allow you to buy doxy from an outside supplier, it will save you some money. Smartpak, and KVVet sell it, and it is sometimes on sale at KVVet. Our vet starts with doxy first because some horses have more problems on the tetr. When we feed the doxy out we toss it in with the grain and leave it whole, and feed a probiotic as well to head off the gassiness, colic and diarrhea that the doxy can cause. If the horse refuses to eat it that way, you can grind the pills in a coffe grinder, add warm water and a sweetener such as molasses, brown sugar, Karo syrup or pancake syrup, and either top dress the grain with it, or syringe it into the horse.
                            Good luck with your friend's horse.
                            "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein