Monday, November 28, 2011

Two More Test Positive

Two more horses at our barn have tested positive using the new ELISA peptide antigen test for active infections with the EPM organism.  Scout is spending the winter at another barn (with an indoor - lucky them!), so I don't know how he's doing.  Charisma, who is a 22 year old Morgan mare - but in excellent condition and still ridden almost every day - started having some reluctance to move out at gaits other than the walk and on neurological testing had some abnormalities affecting her right hind leg.  She's started her treatment with the Oroquin-10 paste (see my EPM page for more information about the disease and a new, much more accurate blood test and a new treatment that are in clinical trials).

Sugar's owner had recently noticed some oddness about her gaits, and since four horses (out of seven total) at our barn have already tested positive, our vet/chiro will be coming Wednesday to draw blood so Sugar can be tested as well.  I'm probably going to have Dawn tested too, although she has no apparent symptoms - the test doesn't cost that much and it would be a good thing to determine whether or not she is starting an active infection - or to rule it out for now.

Our best theory is that one or more of our loads of square hay bales was contaminated with the EPM organism, since Charisma doesn't go on pasture - she's in a dry lot on hay only due to insulin resistance.  We've used the same local hay supplier for years and his hay is excellent in quality.  There's nothing he can do to keep possums out of his hay fields though, and there sure are lots of possums around here - I see them frequently.

Our vet/chiro will also do some work on Pie and Drifter - they're both a bit sore or stiff, either due to getting back into shape or because of some lingering hind end weakness - it's hard to tell.  I'm hoping to get a ride in today - the temperature's going to get into the upper 30sF and the wind isn't too bad.  This time of year, I have to ride whenever I can since the weather isn't going to get any better until spring.


  1. The hay grower can't do anything to prevent possums from contaminating his fields but it's not good that some of the horses are infected. I think you're doing the right thing getting Dawn tested, when one of ours contracts something I do the same with the entire herd. Our biggest disease around here(and they all have it is Lyme's)so they're all treated for it. Hope it works out that Dawn doesn't have it. I'm sure Pie and Drifter will love their chiro treatment.

  2. I haven't heard that hay could be contaminated with EPM, but it makes sense. I hope everything works out well. You should consider moving to New Mexico. It's 60 degrees here and sunny today and no wind. We rode this morning in our back lot to do some exercises and it went well.


  3. Hopefully Dawn is free and clear of EPM!

    A local barn in our area had a contaminated hay supply as well. Unfortunate. . .

    I hope you get that ride in!

  4. This sounds like it may become an ongoing battle; there's no guarantee that next year's hay won't be contaminated too.
    I hope that treatment is effective.

  5. Oh my, I never thought of hay contamination. Once again, a source for a problem you really can't do anything to solve.

    Good idea to have everyone tested. And also good to know there is an effective treatment.

    Wishing us all well on this one.

  6. So sorry to hear others are infected, but I'm glad they can be tested and treated. Your barn sounds like they are being very proactive about it.

  7. ...hay contamination! I hadn't thought of that... Thank you for the education here. But once they have it and recover (or do they ever fully recover?), are horses immune (like Chicken Pox) ?

    Sorry for all the questions...

  8. Very interesting. I didn't want to ill-wish it on another horse, but I had wondered if the others at the barn were exposed too.

    I can't remember, did you get Dawn tested?

  9. Margaret - it's not know for sure that the new treatment for EPM will give lasting immunity - that's one of the purposes of the clinical trial. The inclusion of levamisole in the initial 10-day treatment (as well as decoquinate to kill the organisms) is designed, as I understand it, to stimulate the immune system, and specifically T-cell production, with the hope that the horse will develop lasting immunity, at least to the strain it's infected with.


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