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Foal with Rhodococcus-Jingles Please!

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  • Foal with Rhodococcus-Jingles Please!

    7 week old foal has been diagnoised with rhodococcus.it just kind of crept up on him ,and we didn't know exactly what it was until yesterday. the meds he was on all week did nothing ,and now he is quite sick.He is now on erythromycin and rifram,and the ultrasound of his lungs did not show any leisions but some sort of tails. The only good thing about today was that the noise in his chest seems to have gone. i am very worried about the little fella,and am praying that he will make it.I understand that if he recovers the treatment is quite long.My next concern is that the other foal will develope it as well.They both came from the same breeding shed which we have now learned carries the disease.Please pray for the little guy who is ill ,and that the other fella doesn't come down with it as welll.

  • #2
    I am so sorry. Sending loads of jingles!

    May I ask what his symptoms were? I think it is really helpful for others if ever confronted with the same thing.
    Roseknoll Sporthorses


    • #3
      Please, I have 4 very young foals and 4 others that we watch constantly. I would, also, appreciate posting some of the symptoms.

      Many jingles coming from Sugarbrook in Central F.
      hunter/jumper ponies


      • Original Poster

        Well,he really seemed okay ,a bit of a clear runny nose early on which vet said to monitor temp ,and watch for elevated temp and cough. Seemed to get over the sniffles temp was regualrly about 101.5 vet said under 102 and it wouldn't worry her ,let natuaral immunity build. Then i noticed he seemed a bit less playful,eating fine,nursing fine,but not so rambunctious as tthe other foal. Then he went to breeding shed on a real hot day. They say trailering eespecially if heat is bad. a few days later a dry coug h ,just here and there,like once after getting up ,and once or twice in the field.Still perky.After a few days the cough started to get worse,temp rose to 102.2,but went back down the next day.2 days later temp 102.5 dried mucous around nose,cough much more pronounced and a rattling sound in his chest. Naxel did nothing for it. Riframpin ,orally and banamine ,and raditadine added ( for ulcers) a few days later.At end of week a diagoisis ,and antibiotic changed to erythromycin and riframpin,ultra sound done. Apparently this is a bit hard to diagnois,you have to look at the lungs.The breeding shed said they routinely x ray the lungs of their foals at 1 month to check for lesions.Apparently by the time they show symptoms it can be very advanced.Too bad the breeding shed didn't share this little tidbit with us,but i suppose they don't want to ruin their business.
        i worried about this foal all night. The owner was supposed to get up around midnight and medicate him again.He looked awful last night,listless,coughing ,rapid respirations.I am hoping the new antibiotic will be kicking in this morning.
        one other thing..if you think the foaly might be getting sick ,be sure to keep him out of the heat.The heat seems to be really bad for them.
        I hope this might help someone else,but the disease is very insideous and early detection short of a lung x ray or ultra sound is difficult.
        Last edited by horsekpr; Jun. 22, 2008, 11:25 AM. Reason: mis spelling of medication


        • #5
          I had a foal with Rhodococcus and he's now my fantastic 16.3 new show horse!!

          I was lucky to have caught it early.......I heard what sounded like flim in his throat ( a small rumble.....just occassionally) but knew it wasn't a normal sound.....at first the vet I was using ignored it and told me to give Bactrum......but the next day it was still there so I had them ultrasound. There were three leisions on his lungs.......That first day he had no fever was eating well and not lathargic.

          I had just seen a foal die in front of my eyes at Peterson and Smith Hospital in Ocala when I was there for something else. It was so horrible, I ran home and read everything I could about Rhodoccus Pneumonia. Thank goodness I did as it allowed me to catch it very early by only hearing that sound (just barely and occassionally) The first day or so his fever would be close to normal ......and it never got over 103.1 but I was dilligent in alchol baths, etc and a little bannamine He was about five or six weeks old when I found it.

          We immediately started Rifampun, Zythromycian (It was a Friday so I bought it at the local human pharmacy until the horse pharmacy could make it and ship it to us) and the ulcer meds.........but I cleaned out the tack/feed room of my stallion barn, put mats on the concrete floor (yes, it had a glass window and a dutch door with glass panes on the top) and a window a/c unit.plus paddle fans... The laundry tub became the "trough" (the foal learned how to turn it on and off with the spickets and flooded it once, but I quickly learned to turn it off underneath at the main water) I added a second a/c unit in the window because one wasn't enough to keep them cool in the 12-14 room in 100 degree Fla summer. I only let them out in the evenings when it was cool (for Mom's sake....a TB) He ate a ton of vanilla yogert too trying to battle the dirreah.

          I had one big scare.....in the beginning I gave Mom ace because she wasn't too thrilled with being in the tack room. Shortly after the foal seemed to be lathargic and I thought he was dying........turned out the ace had gone through the milk and sedated him!!!

          They lived in that room for six weeks..........

          You have to be careful to KEEP giving the meds longer than you'd think because if any hint of the germ is still there it will come back with a vengance and now the meds won't work!! It can spread to all the other organs too.........sort of like bastard strangles.....

          FYI Rifampin is a red liquid medicine given to human TB patients.......(and yes, it does stain your clothes!)

          My foal's story was the "case report" in Equus ......about five years ago.

          Good luck!! If he makes it, he can grow up to be 100% normal!!!
          Last edited by florida foxhunter; Jun. 22, 2008, 01:24 PM.
          www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


          • #6
            Thank you so much for sharing details about this illness. We are blessed to have excellent veterinarians, but I think it helps a lot for owners/breeders to be able to recognize symptoms because we are the ones seeing the babies daily (and sometimes, even good vets can miss a diagnosis, so it is good to be able to ask the right questions and check out all possibilities).

            And, we are sending more jingles to your little guy.
            Roseknoll Sporthorses


            • #7
              Last year, there was a foal with Rhodococcus at the barn where we boarded my daughter's pony - it was so difficult to treat. It had the same symptoms that other's described:
              - Became lethargic
              - Spiked high fevers over and over
              - "Rumble" in the chest cavity when breathing
              - Stopped nursing

              Unfortunately our foal didn't make it, but many of them do.

              Jingles and more jingles for you from Virginia.


              • #8
                Jingles from NC for you and your foal(s)-- and thanks to everyone for sharing your stories. This sounds like a rough disease all of us should know more about. Yes, it is so very important "to be able to ask the right questions."


                • #9
                  Aaaw, jingles for your foal...

                  I worked at a TB farm that one year had over sixty foals with Rhodococcus. My husband used to make up the oral syringes for the foals, it was something like five syringes a foal. He had red/orange stains on his hands from the rifampun all the time. Anyway, the only things I would add to the good symptom list and advice you've been give is:

                  --keep the foal cool. We had big drum fans that we put in front of the stalls. Monitor the temp a lot, and also, monitor the temp of the non-sick foal a lot too. They can crash in a matter of hours. If the sick foal has a high temp, do what you have to do to get it down. We did alcohol baths, etc. Don' t let your well foal get overheated either.

                  --in the not-sick foal, another symptom to look for is a sort of fluttery breathing, looking at their side. If their breathing gets labored like that, they are well into it.

                  --while the foal is on erythro and rifampun, HE CANNOT be in the sun, even after his symptoms are gone, as long as they are on the meds they are sun sensitive.

                  --I would have them on Gastrogard and probiotics if you vet thinks that is acceptable. I can't recall if they did probiotics at the TB farm, but all the foals were on the ulcer meds. Diarrhea was a problem--those antibiotics are not easy on their stomachs. Getting ulcers and diarrhea can do them in as easily as the disease.

                  ---FWIW, he may not have gotten it at the "breeding shed". I think the latest research says that the exposure to Rhodococcus comes very early in life, either eating dirt or breathing in dirt that is infected with it. The foal may not get sick for weeks or months later. Many, many farms have it in the soil. Our experience from the TB farm was that the foals got sick when they we put under stress, particularly heat stress. For this reason, we bring our foals in to the barn under fans during the worst heat of the day.

                  --oh, and believe Florida Foxhunter, if you are lucky enough to clear up the symptoms, DON'T STOP the MEDS! You have to stay on for the whole protocal.

                  FF-I read that article, putting him in the tackroom was genius!

                  Good luck. It is a very scary disease and the younger they are when they manifest the symptoms, the more serious it is

                  RIP "Rio" (BW-Clarion) 2000-2009. Bright Spirit, Brave Heart, Loving Soul. I'll love and miss you forever.


                  • Original Poster

                    The foaly seems a bit better this am . his temp was 101.4 ,and he seems brighter. he is in for the day under the fans.I am hoping the new meds will be what he needs. i just called the owner to be sure the healthy foal is brought in before noon so he doesn't get too hot.

                    Thanks for the experience from people on here who have been through it.Sometimes the vets don't seem to give you all the info you need,for instance we were not told about the sun sensetivity from the meds,only told not to let him get too hot.
                    I do think it came from the breeding shed intitally as he was foaled there and stayed for his first 10 days,so I think his intitial exposure was there ,then it got very hot here and he was shipped back to the breeding shed in the heat for a second breeding as the breeding on the foal heat didn't take. The mare came back with a uterine infection ,so I guess the second breeding was a bust as well.I think that trailer ride in the heat probably stressed him out and made him ill.If the mare is able to get bred again,I think they will try for a warmblood ,and do AI. Seems much less risky.


                    • #11
                      Jingling for your foal.
                      I, also, thank you all for posting symptoms/stories.
                      Fenway Farm


                      • #12
                        This disease lives in the dust. It seems that on dusty years it pops up everywhere. We had it once, it was touch and go for a good while. If its on the farm, I don't think you can get rid of it. keep foals aay fromthe dust. They breeth it and get sick.


                        • #13
                          I recently read an article that says a typical situation that can cause Rhodococcus Pnemonia is when a foal/mare are kept in paddock or sandy area. The mares stands with the foal lying at her feet (sometimes made even worse if it's in decomposed manure as some mares can be carriers shedding the virus without having symptoms themselves)........when the mare stomps a fly.....it kicks up the dust that the foal breathes in. Moral of this story is SPRINKLE paddocks during dusty times if at all possible to keep the dust down!!

                          Also, Horsekpr, be aware that horse/foal temperatures often shoot up in the evening.......and are lower during the morning or day....so be prepared!!

                          Good luck! I hate to tell you, but this disease is often referred to as "Killer Pneumonia" because so often people don't realize the foal is sick until it's too late!

                          The year following this episode was CTF's first foal crop, so I gave them all the plasma (at $400+ PER foal!) as a precaution and no one got it (theorizing it was possibly in the soil I had added behind my barn to fill in a washout.......because I'd had foals for years with no problems before). I now give "Seramune" that costs around $60 per bottle the first six hours of a foal's life. They say it has Rhodococcus antibodies.......and I'd rather be safe than sorry. I buy it through the Heartland Vetinary Supply in MO. Have had no more, knock wood!! (especially with the drought's we've had in FL the past few years)

                          We'll be jingling down here............keep us informed!
                          Last edited by florida foxhunter; Jun. 22, 2008, 01:30 PM.
                          www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


                          • #14
                            Keeping fingers crossed, yuck. Here in the dry Central Valley of CA, we also have a bacterial illness that strikes adult horses called Pigeon Fever, Dry Land Strangles, or Psuedotuberculosis. It is also treated w/ Rifampin when it develops internal abcesses (in most cases, it is an external illness, and no antibiotics are used). It is also believed to live in the ground, and can be dormant for years, than all of a sudden, it reappears in waves. It hits entire regions, then disappears again.

                            Several years ago, I had a mare develop the internal version of it (fairly rare, most are external), and had to treat with SIX months of Rifampin. Don't know if you are buying it from the vet or at the local pharmacy (none of our vets carried it, since it is considered a HUMAN drug). So we had to order it through our pharmacy, and the stuff is BLOODY EXPENSIVE. Was costing me over $300/week (for 6 months).

                            I found that you can get it compounded at some labs - and the cost is substantially lower. Started mail ordering it from a reputable compounding lab, and my cost dropped from $1300/month to $350/month! So, just a tip - if you face that kind of bill, there are ways to manage the cost a bit.
                            www.MysticOakRanch.com Friesian/Warmblood Crosses, the Ultimate Sporthorse
                            Director, WTF Registry


                            • #15
                              I know your pain first hand... In 2006, I purchased 2 weanlings from the same breeder who stabled them at the same farm...both got/were sick! A friend also got a weanling from the same breeder who was also stabled at the same farm. He too got sick. I was a NIGHTMARE that is still very haunting.

                              I am not sure what is worse... the illness or the medication. I wound up giving the filly away after she recovered. The other colt was purchased back by the breeder and I in turn got a lovely palomino filly that I sold as quickly as I could.

                              I wish you all the best! If I bred... they would all get plasma regardless.
                              ~ Bill Rube ~
                              Check us out on Facebook


                              • #16
                                Silver Bells, you are right on. Plasma!!!!!!!! We do that here in FL with all the foals. We have found that 1 pint seems to be enough. The usual dose is 2 pints. Learned this the hard way. I will always have a new foal given Plasma. Far better safe than sorry.

                                Jingles for your foal and praying that all goes well. It seems to be something in the soil. Once there, always there.
                                OMGIH, I loff my mares clique


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by SpringOakFarm
                                  Last year, there was a foal with Rhodococcus at the barn where we boarded my daughter's pony - it was so difficult to treat. It had the same symptoms that other's described:
                                  - Became lethargic
                                  - Spiked high fevers over and over
                                  - "Rumble" in the chest cavity when breathing
                                  - Stopped nursing

                                  Pretty textbook symptoms. Nursing is usually slowed quite a lot! The very best Rx is the combination of Rifampun and Zythromycian, but boy howdie, that's expensive Rx!!!!!

                                  Good Luck. Nasty stuff.
                                  Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist


                                  • #18
                                    No advice or experience to share but sending lots of jingle from north Florida.
                                    Member of the Redheads with Redheads clique.
                                    I have a blog about Sammy: http://www.sammyssaga.blogspot.com/


                                    • #19
                                      I remember (but could find out exactly) that our meds were compounded at a pharmacy in South Carolina............pm me if necesary and I'll look it up!
                                      Good luck!
                                      www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks foxhunter.I will take you up on that.
                                        Foaly wasn't doing so well at evening meds.his temp was up again and his breathing very rapid.i gave him his meds and hung out with the door open and the big fan on him ,and after about an hour he seemed to be doing a bit better. He stood with his nose in the fan and enjoyed some world class neck scritches.he munched on some alfalfa ,and had a drink from his mom.His temp went down some and his breathing got a little better.his owner arrived with some alcohol,and we sponged him down with that.She said that afterwards he went down for a nap,and when he got up his breathing seemed bettter and he had a bit of grain and some milk.She'll give him his midnight meds ,and I'll be back in the am.

                                        Thanks to everyone for the jingles,stories ,and advice. I am learning way more about this disease than i ever wanted to.Some interesting research is being done (read The Horse.com) .i hope they find a vaccine for it.Believe it ,or not,I am learning more from this board than i have from the vets.