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Abscess from injection - Warning: Nasty pictures

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  • Abscess from injection - Warning: Nasty pictures

    I've been on an adventure with my pony friend who I ride for his owner. Poor guy has been fighting a nasty abscess on his neck from an injection for a month now.

    So let me give you the run down -

    9/15 - Injection given - EWE, Botulism, something else I can't remember....they were given on both sides of the neck

    9/14 - Complete personality change - pony who normally is a cribber, biter, wiggly, energetic Morgan completely dull. Just standing in his stall. Big, glazed over eyes, no biting no wiggling, most depressed looking pony ever. Got the vet out thinking colic, vet believes it is a reaction to the injections and to give it a few days.

    9/17 - Still no improvement and swelling begins around injection site. Called vet who still says it is a reaction and cold hosing 2x's per day begins.

    9/19 - Swelling still is growing, it is hard and pony won't put his head down to the ground to eat because it is so uncomfortable/painful, flinches at touch.

    9/21 - Have vet out again steroid shot and put on antibiotics, diagnosed as abscess and wait it out. The swelling now is about 10" wide and goes from middle of his neck to about 3" away from his withers.

    9/22 - Personality returns, neck still as hard as a rock and no change in size but does not appear painful. Call vet about every other day, vet says to keep waiting it out.

    9/27 - Swelling starts to go down.

    10/01 - Swells up again.

    10/4 - Gets soft in the middle and seeps some then stops. Hot compresses and furazone to try and pull it out.

    10/8 - A small spot (dime size) softens and the skin seems to crack and it bleeds and pusses.

    10/10 - Spot grows bigger and swelling surrounding it goes down and moves into the spot and spot grows into a lump the size of a large walnut.

    10/13 - Size of a lemon.

    And now the reason you opened the thread, pictures from today http://i947.photobucket.com/albums/a...tune/BLECH.jpg and http://i947.photobucket.com/albums/a...ortune/EWW.jpg . When I first walked up to him today I swear it looked like a brain was growing out from the side of his neck.

    The yellow stuff is the furazone, the skin is cracked but there doesn't seem to be any real drainage. I have a feeling that any day now the whole thing is going to rupture. It has perplexed our vets, my BM, and trainer none have ever seen anything like this happen before.

    Pony has to split his legs wide to get to grass but other wise acts like his normal mischievous self.

    Has anyone had an abscess from an injection? Has anyone seen something this bad?

    We are continuing to put hot compresses and furazone on it to try and get the thing to open up but nothing is happening other than it getting bigger and grosser. :P
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .

  • #2
    Our one horse always gets swelling at the site of his tetanus vaccine, but never anything like in your picture. I wish the owner had given the vaccines 1 at a time so you would know which vaccine caused this (if the vaccine is the cause, rather than just bacteria at the injection site).

    Can the vet ultrasound the lump to see if there is an abscess inside?

    That lump is quite impressive. Keep us updated. I think it is going to be a long time before that lump is completely gone.


    • #3
      Yes, I have experienced this same thing first-hand in a neighbor's horse. By any chance did the horse get a Strangles intra-nasal at the same time?

      The reason I ask is this. My neighbor requested that I do her horse's vaccines, as I always do the majority of my own. She had EWT and Strangles intranasal for them on this particular day. I gave an EWT to one horse, readied the Strangles, and my husband administered it. I sterilized my hands (or so I thought), gave the next horse its EWT, readied the Strangles, and husband gave it again. Some time later (2 weeks? 1 week? 3 weeks? Can't recall exactly), the 2nd horse shows all the same signs of this horse. Ultimately its neck "blew out" just like this.

      After conversations with vets, I came to the conclusion that I had somehow gotten the Strangles at the site of the EWT shot or on the needle I used to administer the EWT shot. How, I do not know, as I am extremely careful about sterilization when I mix and pull up Strangles intranasal because I'm aware such an abscess is possible. Obviously, I missed something. Fortunately, my neighbor still likes me.

      The lesson I took away from this is that I always, always do my Strangles separate from anything else. I don't even think now of going near a needle when I'm doing the Strangles intranasal.

      One thing I did notice last time I mixed and pulled up a Strangles (I was watching very carefully) - some of the vaccine did leak out around the top when I was shaking the bottle. So now, one more step in the process for me - hold bottle with paper towel when shaking, wipe down bottle when done, and dispose of all immediately in garbage can far away from barn. I'm a little paranoid now, after that abscess I created....and it was eventually about twice the size of the one you're showing here. Healed with no scarring, thank goodness.


      • #4
        My friend's horse came with a golf ball size dent in his neck and because we lived in a very small community, she asked her vet about it. It turned out that he had an abscess the size of a basketball in his neck after vaccinations when he was a two year old. I don't know the entire story other than eventually it drained and left the golf ball sized dent. The vet never vaccinated him in the neck again, always in his chest because it drains better. She said that it was the worst reaction she had seen in the 30+ years she had been in practice.


        • #5
          I don't know too many details but my mothers horse got a abscess from a vaccine a few years ago... The things I can tell you about it is the vet came out and actually cut it open a put drainage tubes into... Lots of cold hosing and I am sure meds... And the other thing the vaccine company covered all the cost of the vet visits for the abscess... I know he was sound through it all and it never really seemed to bother him... But thats all I know... Good luck hope the pony feels better soon!!


          • #6
            Yes, if a vet administered vaccines, the company will typically reimburse - or so vets have told me. In my neighbor's case, since I administered the vaccines, we didn't even ask if they would. However, I give her shavings free of charge whenever she needs them and horse-sit as needed. Figured it's the least I can do!


            • Original Poster

              Nope didn't get the strangles. I have asked the vet about puncturing it but he said he wouldn't know where to start and didn't want to just slice into his neck. Now that it looks like it is about to pop they want to let it happen naturally.
              “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

              !! is the new .


              • #8
                Sounds like you may need to go vet shopping! Furazone is not a drawing agent!! It will do NOTHING for an infection it cannot touch (aka an abcess). Here is what furazone says it is idicated for:
                "Fura-Zone Ointment is indicated for the prevention or treatment of surface bacterial infections of wounds, burns, and cutaneous ulcers"

                Note use of the word "surface".

                I've seen this three times. Two times it was treated actively in attempt to get the horses back to work and reduce risk of permanent cosmetic damage. So I can't say how long this will take to heal with out vet care... probably many months. The two vets that I've seen treat this have both lanced (cut a slit in to the abcess) and throughouly cleaned out the abcess. In one case it was packed with an antibacterial preperation (don't remeber how many times it was changed) and drainage tubes were put in and the other time the wound was cleaned out daily with watered down betadine using a large syringe to squirt the water in, a drainage tub was added when the hole closed up to much for cleaning. One vet's hole was thumb (daily cleaning) sized the other about 1 1/2 inches long (packed). Both horses were given SMZ's for 10 days and banamine for the first couple of days until comfortable. Neither had any visible injury/marks once healed.

                The third horse was treated with 3 different types of antibiotics but died around 6 weeks after abcess. It was heartbreaking and wasn't until after the necropsy that they learned the abcess had pressed on the spinal chord and caused him to stop breathing (was paralized for about an hour before death, but seemed perfectly fine before that besides having a painful lump on his neck) They also found the infection was causing necrotic muscle death (actually turning the tissue black) and they said once they opened it, the abcess was the worse they had ever smelled. They thought that because the abcess was "unable to find a way out" the bacteria began affecting the muscle health. Very sad as the owner was very involved, but trusted the vet that it "needed more time" and no one thought it would have ended this way!

                Your vet will probably need to ultrasound to find the best spot to lance and place drainage tubes. Good luck! I hope you have a happy ending!


                • #9
                  Yes, please keep us posted. And what Flyracing said above is what the vet ended up doing for the horse I mentioned.


                  • #10
                    At least in people, you can't open and drain an abscess unless you know where it is. Until it gets a soft spot, it can be hard to find. I have seen MDs cut multiple holes in abscesses and miss the spot. You have to find the pus pocket or cutting holes is worse than doing nothing. Putting ointment on the outside of an abscess seems to protect the skin from damage from scabbing, and also helps keep the scab soft so it can continue to drain after it is open. I wouldn't fault the vet for having you use ointment on the outside.

                    Talk with your vet about ultrasounding the area to look for an area to drain. You also could try to take the horse to a board certified surgeon. When one of our boys had an infected pastern, we had him seen by a surgeon.


                    • Original Poster

                      Sadly the pony is not mine and the owner wants to spend as little as possible. I will definatly update if anything changes.
                      “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

                      !! is the new .


                      • #12
                        I once saw a horse get "gas gangrene" in its neck from injections. When they burst from two sites, you could put you finger in one hole and out the other. It was super nasty. I really prefer to give shots in the brisket area when I can for this reason...much easier for abscesses to break out and drain if they are going to happen.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post
                          Sadly the pony is not mine and the owner wants to spend as little as possible. I will definatly update if anything changes.

                          That's a horrific looking wound that needs to be properly treated. Ah well, I guess a dead horse is cheaper than a vet bill.

                          "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton


                          • Original Poster

                            She'll pay what ever is necessary of course, but is not wanting to go the full ultrasounding route because it seemed like it is going to pop on it's own. Nothing I can really do about it since I have my own horse and as much I'd like to can't afford to pay for anything on the pony.
                            Last edited by *JumpIt*; Oct. 22, 2009, 10:17 PM.
                            “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

                            !! is the new .


                            • #15
                              Sorry, I don't buy it. If she will "pay what is necessary" then she should be willing to pay for proper veterinary care. I don't know a single vet that would take a look at that and say, "It should pop on its own."
                              "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton


                              • #16
                                There is NO way in hell any vet said that's going to pop on its own.

                                You and the owner are CRAZY not to treat that wound aggressively. Do you realize how much pain that animal is in?????

                                I weep for that horse.
                                Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                -Rudyard Kipling


                                • #17
                                  I know of lots of abscesses that have popped on their own including ones much like this horses. The vet has seen the horse, has given a care option, and the owner is following those instructions. People are so quick the judge and condemn people around here if they don't do it exactly they way YOU feel like they should. Many horses do just fine with the wait and see approach with things like this.


                                  • #18
                                    I would try Neosporin ointment three times a day, this WILL draw the infection to the top,it may take a week or so but, it will draw..What do ya have to lose at this point anyway, I did not mean that in an ugly way either..Wishing you the best with your guy

                                    Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post
                                    Sadly the pony is not mine and the owner wants to spend as little as possible. I will definatly update if anything changes.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      If it were my horse I would have already done something more but since he is not mine I can do nothing but follow directions and comment when allowed. I have no say in the matter.

                                      The pictures show it at it's worst, last time vet was (and said to let it wait and see) it was about a 1/3 that size and wasn't open but for a small spot. Vet is suppose to come out again today, he may decided that today we can cut into it.

                                      I am just at a loss, I have no control and can't change anything but pony doesn't seem to be bothered by it. I want to do what's best for him but he is not mine. I'm doing the best that I can do given the circumstances.

                                      I'll talk with the owner and vet today about using neosporine instead of furazone.

                                      Thanks for the good wishes, I really hate it for the little man.
                                      “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

                                      !! is the new .


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post
                                        I have no say in the matter.

                                        The pictures show it at it's worst, last time vet was (and said to let it wait and see) it was about a 1/3 that size and wasn't open but for a small spot. Vet is suppose to come out again today, he may decided that today we can cut into it.
                                        I bet the vet is going to want to do something at this point. I'm not one to call the vet for every little thing - and I've treated plenty of abscesses in various species of livestock.

                                        Sometimes owners can be penny wise and pound foolish.
                                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                        -Rudyard Kipling