Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lyme in Horses - Looking Back at Symptoms

Now that Pie has tested positive for chronic Lyme - an infection lasting longer than 5 months, I was looking back at my records to see if anything indicated when the acute infection might have occurred.  It's clear that we're in a hotspot area for Lyme in extreme northeastern Illinois - here's the CDC map showing human cases of Lyme.  Pie came to me from north of Minneapolis (also a Lyme area) in the winter of 2010-2011.  From the moment I got him, he impressed me as a very quiet, calm and sensible horse - he wasn't spooky or nervous at all.  The spring of 2011 was a terrible season for ticks - of course the very small ticks that carry Lyme often aren't visible, but there sure were a lot of the regular type of ticks.  In the April/May 2011 time frame, a couple of very odd things happened.  Pie became extremely muscle sore - in fact he cramped up on a trail ride to the extent that he was in severe pain, but it didn't act or look like classic tying up.  His muscles stayed pretty tight and sore, and he subsequently developed a case of laminitis.  He also became extremely grouchy and reactive to touch - he would bite when touched or groomed - this was very atypical for him.  By June, he seemed to be feeling a bit better, but continued to be a bit stiff and was still reactive and spooky - there were a number of big spooks leading up to my fall off him in mid-June.  He subsequently appears to have developed his first case of EPM in the fall Since then, he's remained very tight in his muscles, although able to work, and remains somewhat grumpy, although he's had no further episodes of footsoreness or someness to touch.  He remains basically calm, but very visually reactive.

His titer levels on the new Cornell multiplex test - he tested negative on the A and C antigens and positive on the F antigen, and his symptoms, are consistent with an acute infection with Lyme in the late spring of 2011, with a chronic infection persisting until now.  We're waiting to hear back from Cornell on his treatment plan, but I have hopes that the grumpiness, muscle tightness and visual spookiness may in fact be continuing symptoms of his chronic Lyme that can be mitigated by treatment.

11 comments:

  1. Aww poor Pie! I am glad you kept records, and that you've figured out what his problems stem from. Hope you get the old Pie back!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow Kate, you've got a lot going on! You must be quite thankful for good record-keeping; this is like placing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. Poor, sweet Pie...when you learn of how much he's been dealing with, it lends even more to their willing natures, doesn't it? Have you got results from the epm testing yet? I sure hope they can put together a good treatment protocol that gives Pie results and relief, once and for all. It's very interesting for me to learn about the lyme disease, as it's not very common here, and I had no idea what the symptoms were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pie has now tested negative for EPM - which means he's been successfully treated for both strains. We only tested him now for Lyme because of his persistant muscle tightness, grumpiness and visual reactivity - all of his other symptoms have disappeared. Lyme's got variable symptoms, many of which look like other things, and there wasn't a very good/accurate blood test until recently.

      Delete
  3. I'm glad you're able to get to the bottom of all of this, and I hope there are good treatments for it. Your horses sure are lucky to have you taking care of them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I feel for you, and for Pie too for that matter. He is such a nice horse, and Lyme's has really gotten him off track. I can only imagine how worrisome and stressful it would be to have one of my horses suffering from this and never being sure if his behavior was a training issue or a health issue.
    Glad you have the expertise to get to the bottom of all this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very interesting. Your meticulous records seem to be paying off.

    I have been treated twice for Lyme disease. The first time, I did not have the rash, but I was horribly tired, sore, and I had a chronic headache. This was very early in the discovery of Lyme's and I had to tell my doctor to test me. Antibiotics seemed to do the trick and I recovered quickly.

    The second time I had the classic bullseye rash and was treated very quickly, even before the positive blood tests came back.

    I've requested at least two more tests in the last 5 years or so, with no sign of the disease. But I will remain cautious.

    There is some theory that you can develop an immunity if you recover from an infection. I'd like to think that, for both me and your Pie.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I also come from an area where Lyme is not common so I am learning a lot from you but I wish it wasn't because one of your horses has it! I am so sorry. Hoping Pie is feeling better once a treatment plan is in place!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Por Pie - but this explains a lot so now you can treat him. I live in the land of Lyme so I caution you to be careful- my husband ignored the symptoms this summer and ended up in the hospital. I never go out to the barn without bug spray and long sleeves and pants. Both my horses have had it. I spray them with Mosquito Halt, which is also for ticks- as long as there's no snow onthe ground, they get sprayed. Fall is a bad time with ticks in the dead leaves. Siete won't eat the doxy, so I crushed the 40 pills and syringed it in a little vanilla yogurt with a touch of cinnamon - in case Pie won't eat it in his feed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kate, I'm so sorry that Pie has Lyme, but you are surely giving him the best care in the world. I hope he has a speedy and comfortable recovery.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sorry to hear that Pie has Lyme's. It's an awful disease and has caused our herd a lot of misery over the years. They have all had it at one time or another and been treated. It is also recurring so we are always on the lookout for symptoms in each horse. The good news is that the doxy does work. Hope Pie is feeling better and back to his old self soon.

    This summer my daughter was infected for the second time and has just finished her medication. She still feels achy and out of sorts but we're hoping she'll be better soon. Be careful for yourself too. You never know when one of those little pests will bite you. A bullseye rash doesn't always appear. I despise ticks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping the treatment will make Pie feel much better - poor guy. Fortunately, he has no residual lameness, but he's very sore and grumpy.

      Delete

Thank you for commenting - we appreciate it. No spam or marketing comments will be published.