2001 Sonora Lane

Manheim, PA 17545

Edelson Equine Associates - Horse Veterinarian Manheim

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We try and bring you information that may benefit you and your horse, and also keep you up-to-date on the latest news. Feel free to add comments or ask questions.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Oct 1 2018 05:29PM

With fewer than 100 cases of rabies per year, it may be easy to try and disregard the disease. However, it is a very dangerous situation to have a non-vaccinated horse, especially if your horse is residing at a boarding farm with several people that come in contact with your horse. Rabies is one of the core vaccines recommended by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. It is a zoonotic disease; thus making it a human health concern as well as animal health.

Rabies is a viral disease that can infect all mammals and leads to neurological disease; which causes your horse to move or behave abnormally. The most common way rabies is transmitted is through bite wounds by infected animals. Once a horse or human is exposed to the virus it multiplies in the muscle tissue, then travels up the peripheral nerves and enters the central nervous system (Brain, Spinal cord). The virus then moves from the central nervous system to various tissues in the body; most importantly the salivary glands. This is what makes it possible for the virus to be transmitted through saliva via bite wounds.

That said, rabies is rare in horses; however, the outcome is fatal 100% of the time. Rabies can be carried by all mammals, but most commonly the infection is introduced by a wild animal. In the United States, the most common wildlife that caries the virus are: bats, skunks, red fox, and raccoons. Infections in horses tend to increase in late summer when wildlife populations have peaked. A lot of people ask; if it is rare, why should I vaccinate my horse? Again, rabies is fatal in horses; there is no treatment. Prevention is key! You also can get rabies from your horse. Another important reason to vaccinate is; there is no diagnostic test other than post-mortem exam. So your horse would have to be euthanized to even diagnose the disease.

Time from infection to becoming symptomatic can be anywhere from 2 to 9 weeks, but may take as long as 15 months. The timeline depends on where the bite occurred; the farther it is from the central nervous system the longer the symptoms take to arise. Unfortunately rabies can appear like other diseases that can affect the horse’s neurologic system. This is why it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your horse has an obvious bite wound and is acting abnormal; you need to call your veterinarian so they can help assess the horse. There are a variety of neurologic symptoms associated with horses infected with rabies. Some of the more common ones are: acting depressed, not eating or drinking, behavior changes- such as irritability, disorientation, or panic, develop seizures, can become partially or totally paralyzed in hind limbs, develop ataxia (wobbly gait), recumbent (unable to rise). Death usually occurs in 5- 10 days after symptoms begin, up to 14 days has been reported.

Since rabies is a zoonotic disease; it is important that you take precautions if you suspect your horse may be infected. If you are suspicious of your horse being infected with rabies contact your veterinarian immediately and isolate the horse away from other horses and people. Wear gloves and a face shield or goggles. Do not put your hands near your horse’s mouth, as the virus contained in the horse’s saliva can enter your system through small cracks or cuts in your skin. Any fully vaccinated animal (vaccinated more than 30 days before being bitten) should be vaccinated immediately and observed for 45 days. An exposed unvaccinated animal should be euthanized immediately or quarantined for 6 months. If your horse has indeed been exposed to the virus you and any other people in contact with the horse need to have post-exposure prophylaxis; which is a series of vaccinations. Lastly rabies is a reportable disease; which means the state or federal health authorities must be consulted when managing a potential case.


By Maegen Brown CVT, Oct 1 2018 04:52PM

This year West Nile Virus cases have been at an all-time high; likely due to our extremely rainy year. Almost every state has reported cases of the disease; horses represent 96.9% of all reported non-human mammalian cases. There is no treatment for WNV, your veterinarian can only treat the symptoms with NSAIDS and steroids to try and get the horse through the initial attack of the virus. The virus causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). The fatality rate for horses exhibiting clinical signs of WNV is approximately 33%. Data showed that 40% of horses that survive the acute illness caused by WNV still exhibit residual effects, such as gait and behavioral abnormalities, 6-months post-diagnosis. Thus, vaccination for West Nile virus is recommended as a core vaccine and is an essential standard of care for all horses in North America. It is best to vaccinate in the spring, and then booster, depending on the climate, again in late summer/ early fall. WNV is most prevalent between May and October; these are the times that mosquito populations are high. Some signs to look for are: Fever, muscle twitching, stumbling, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, ataxia, head pressing, aimless wandering, convulsions (seizures), inability to swallow, and hyper excitability. Most horses begin to show signs of the disease 3 to 15 days after being infected. Many horses will improve 5 to 7 days from the time they became symptomatic. If you see symptoms of WNV you should contact your veterinarian immediately; so they can begin treatment to better increase chances of survival and alleviate the horse’s discomfort. Possibly starting IV fluids or tube feedings if the horse is not eating or drinking enough. Not only is vaccinating important, but great lengths should be taken to try and remove standing water that creates an environment that mosquitoes thrive in. Also, most fly sprays also protect against mosquitoes.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Apr 12 2017 01:09PM

Due to a recent outbreak of feed acquired Botulism toxicity in a large population of horses in Eastern PA, we wanted to revisit what Botulism toxicity can do in horses. Botulism is a highly fatal neurologic disease caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Despite horses’ large size, they are the most susceptible species to botulism toxicity. There are seven known strains of C. botulinum, types A through G. Types A and B are most common in horses and are usually acquired through spoiled forage sources or silage. This is a concern on dairy farms where the cows can be close to the horses making it possible for silage to contaminate the horses’ feed sources. Type C can be caused by a decaying dead animal in the feed or water. Type B is the only strain that has a vaccination marketed for use in horses. Types D through G have never been reported in horses in the United States. The bacteria produces a toxin, and it is the toxin that causes muscle weakness. The severity of the disease depends on the amount of toxin that is in the horse’s system, blocking transmission between the nerves and the muscles. If there is a minimal amount of toxin, recovery is expected, but a large amount of toxin can be fatal. Botulism treatment includes a combination of antitoxin administration and supportive care.

After exposure, the botulinum toxin enters the bloodstream, circulates throughout the body, and enters various motor nerve cells. As a result, the horse becomes weak and potentially paralyzed. The earliest clinical signs of botulism in adult horses usually include drooling, dropping food, weak tongue tone, inability to swallow, and anorexia. The horse will most likely still have an appetite in earlier stages, but they will appear to be playing in their feed or water being unable to swallow. As the disease progresses, the muscle weakness worsens, breathing becomes difficult, and death can occur due to the paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Botulism is usually fatal if left untreated; however if treated, a horse can fully recover. So at the first signs it is important to contact your veterinarian, the more time that goes by without treatment; the lesser the chances of recovery.

Prevention is the best method to protect horses from acquiring Botulism toxicity. An intramuscular vaccine is the best preventative measure; it is given in three doses initially, then an annual single dose booster is required. Pregnant broodmares should be vaccinated for Botulism as part of their pre foaling vaccines. “Shaker Foal Syndrome” is generally seen in foals at 1 to 2 months of age, but it can develop as early as 2 weeks or as late as 6 months. Also, good husbandry around the barn can help. Be sure to never feed rotten or moldy grain or hay. Do not use this material as bedding either, as horses may still eat it. Keep water troughs and buckets clean. Be sure to properly dispose of any dead animal carcasses found on the property or in the field and pasture.


By Maegen Brown CVT, Apr 12 2017 01:00PM

Tumor is an attention getting word. To define in simple terms a tumor is an uncontrolled growth of cells, which invade normal tissues and disrupt the normal functions. Tumors can be of two different types; benign- which is slow growing and unlikely to spread, or malignant- which is fast growing, easily metastasized, and spreads to other tissues. Luckily the majority of tumors in horses are benign. The two most common types of tumors are sarcoids and melanomas; both of these types can be benign, however, they both can be a nuisance and a health risk not to mention unsightly.

Sarcoids are the most common tumors on horses. Small, flat, crusty- resembling a wart; this type is a verrucous sarcoid and they tend to grow slowly. Fibroblastic sarcoids are more aggressive and invasive; they are raised bumpy lesions that often bleed or ooze serum if agitated. Areas most affected and likely to have sarcoids develop are: skin of the head, especially the mouth, eyelids, and ears. Legs, tail head, and abdomen area. Sarcoids can seemingly appear quickly which has led researchers to believe there may be an infectious or viral cause. Most equine sarcoids are infected with bovine papilloma virus (BPV)-causes non-malignant warts on cattle. Horses are accidental hosts and the virus causes equine cells to develop tumor like characteristics. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian examine the tumor to decide the type of tumor your horse has and what treatment protocol should be implemented. Treatment can depend on the size and location of the tumor. Waiting too long to act could allow the tumor to grow too large or become malignant, and the option of treatment may be lost. So it is best to explore treatment options early on. Options for treatment are as follows: Surgical excision, Cryonecrosis (freezing with liquid nitrogen), radiation therapy, destruction by surgical laser, chemotherapy, or injection of immune stimulation. Veterinarians may use one or any combination of the listed treatments based on the size and location of the tumor.

Melanomas; what every owner of a grey horse fears. Like sarcoids they can be benign; however, they can swiftly change to malignant. Melanomas are tumors of the melanocytes, the cells that produce skin pigment. Unlike melanomas in humans that are thought to be triggered by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, horses’ melanomas do not appear to be linked to an overdose of sun. Common areas for melanomas are: the underside of the tail, perineal and peri-anal regions, as well as the penis and sheath in males. They also can be found on the ears and other areas on the head, jugular region and parotid salivary gland. Tumors can also spread internally- commonly gravitating to the liver, spleen, and lungs.

There are four types of melanomas we commonly see in horses. Melanocytic nevi are often benign and found on younger horses. Dermal melanoma lesions are usually benign but may develop malignant over time. They frequently develop in grey horse less than 15 years of age. Dermal melanomaosis, frequently malignant often spreading to other organs. They usually occur in grey horses older than 15 years of age. Anaplastic melanoma, these are rare but the tumors are malignant and frequently metastasize. They tend to occur in older (over 20) non-grey horses. It is very important to have your veterinarian examine any mass found on your horse. Diagnostics can be performed to discover what type you are dealing with. Some of these tests are fine needle aspirate, biopsy, or removal of mass entirely. A rectal exam or ultrasonography can help locate internal tumors. As with the sarcoids there are a few treatment options for melanomas that are similar. Surgical excision, cryoncrosis, Cisplatin (chemotherapeutic drug) along with surgical excision. Cimetidine, a histamine blocker that can preserve the body’s immune response and allow tumor cell killing. Also there is a melanoma vaccine that is being studied at the University of Florida’s college of Veterinary medicine.

Often melanomas are diagnosed in its later stages when treatment is more difficult or unlikely to help. If you notice a black nodular mass on your horse or feel something abnormal under the skin, be sure to call your veterinarian promptly.

When it comes to sarcoids and melanomas there is not one treatment plan every horse. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is best; discuss with your veterinarian the best treatment plan possible for your horse.


By Maegen Brown CVT, Sep 2 2016 04:12PM

That time of year has come upon us; WNV cases have begun to arise. In 2016 alone 18 states have reported cases of the disease. The first case was reported on 6/27/16, to the most recent case reported on 8/31/16. Among the 18 states New York was one; and for us that is a little close for comfort. Currently there is no treatment for WNV; however, there is a vaccine that is highly recommended. WNV infects the central nervous system and most infections are caused by mosquito bites. So it is best to vaccinate in the spring, and then booster, depending on the climate, again in late Summer/ early Fall, since these are the times that mosquito populations are high. Some signs to look for are: Fever, weakness of hind limbs, paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, ataxia (weakness), head pressing, aimless wandering, convulsions (seizures), inability to swallow, walking in circles, and hyperexcitability. If you were to see these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian immediately. As well as vaccinating, preventing exposure is also an important precaution; such as, removing standing water that creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes, etc.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Jun 2 2016 03:09PM

Spring and Summer bring nicer weather along with the unfortunate insect population increase. These bothersome pests are not only annoying but can spread disease and cause skin issues. Some of the more common insects are: houseflies, horse flies, biting midges, and mosquitoes. House flies usually make up the majority of the swarms around you and your horse. Breeding preferences of houseflies are trash cans and manure piles, and they have the potential to produce 191 quadrillion more house flies between April and August. Horse flies and biting midges tend to breed in semi-aquatic conditions such as, mud and decaying material. Mosquitoes breed in aquatic environments like stagnant ponds or puddles.

Flies can spread various parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Summer sores are a condition derived from a parasite that houseflies carry. Horse flies can spread ringworm and equine infectious anemia. Biting midges can cause allergic reactions, resulting in equine allergic dermatitis. Mosquitoes harbor and spread deadly viruses such as Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE and WEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV).

Management practices can go a long way in reducing the insect count thus reducing the chances of health problems. One of the most important methods of fly control is proper cleanup and disposal of hay, bedding, and manure. By removing manure you are removing one of the houseflies breeding environments. Proper drainage of water is also important; flies cannot breed well in a dry environment. Water buckets and troughs should be emptied and cleaned often; this prevents the mosquitos’ population from rising. Be sure to check your property for items that can hold water and create a mosquito’s breeding ground, like tires, birdbaths, and plant pots.

There are simple things you can do to try and prevent flies from landing on your horse and transmitting parasites and diseases. Fly masks are a great way to keep flies out of horses’ eyes and ears. Fly sheets are also available; these can be good for horses that may have a fly allergy. Some ways to prevent insects in your barn is to install screens in the windows and doorways; also, fans are great because you can angle them towards the doors so that the outward flow hinders the insects from entering.

Aside from physical barriers, there are many chemical and biological control products on the market. There are insecticides that can be directly applied to your horse or the environment. Be sure to read the labels carefully; Pyrothrin is extracted from a flower, whereas organophosphates or insect growth regulators (IGR) are neurotoxic chemicals that kill insects. IGR’s are toxic to humans and animals and should be avoided. Also, be aware if your horse has a reaction to the fly spray, usually indicated by skin reactions, they may need veterinary attention depending on the severity. Your vet can recommend other products and the current one should be discontinued.

Some biological insecticides are BTI and Fly Predators. BTI is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that can be added to pond water to kill mosquito larvae without harming other animals. Fly Predators reduce the fly population by killing them in their pupa stage. The Fly Predators do no become pests themselves; they do not bite or sting and they live their life-cycle on the fecal pile eating fly pupa.

Consult with your veterinarian to develop a routine schedule consisting of deworming and Spring and Fall vaccinations. There are vaccines to prevent EEE, WEE, and WNV. Dewormers containing ivermectin and moxidectin can prevent many parasites that flies can transmit. The prevention of insects cannot be controlled a 100%, but with proper use of preventive medicine the viruses and parasites they spread can be controlled.

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