Clostridium Sordellii - culprit in gypsy mare's death (was first suspected gunshot) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 02-01-2013, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Clostridium Sordellii - culprit in gypsy mare's death (was first suspected gunshot)

The day I lost my mare, the evidence seemed to point to a gunshot wound. Thank you all for all the support and advice you gave me when I posted on this forum last month Need advice - horse was shot and killed

As it turns out, the suspiciously gunshot-looking head wound only extended to the bone. Pathologists tested her muscle and found tons of the Clostridium Sordellii bacteria present. They noted that she was muddy (the bacteria is often found in soil). Another common source is contaminated feed, but my horses are only on pasture and farm-raised hay, so that's unlikely. The pathologist pointed out that the actual cause of death was the head trauma, not the bacteria, so after talking with my vet it seems the most likely scenario was that she somehow came in contact with the bacteria, became septic, then injured her head during the last bit of time when her body wasn't functioning properly. She was seen healthy and normal at 3:30 pm, and found dead the following day at 9 am. It's scary thinking that these "baddies" are lurking around in the soil and there's no vaccine or anything else that can be done about it. I have 7 other horses on that farm, all Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses. I can't help but wonder if my gypsy mare was more susceptible to the bacteria because she was purebred or because her mother and grandfather were imported from England. I wonder if the horses that have been born and bred in KY have a naturally higher resistance. My vet told me that it is transmittable to humans. I had my hands all over that mare, but he said that if I had been infected, it would have already shown itself.

If you all know anything about this bacteria, I'd love to gather as much info as possible.
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post #2 of 3 Old 02-01-2013, 12:42 PM
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At least now you know. That is really strange, but glad you don't have a horse shooting person in your neighborhood. Again, sorry for your loss.
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post #3 of 3 Old 02-01-2013, 05:40 PM
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I believe it is an anaerobic bacteria in the same family as Clostridium Perfrengens and Clostridium Tetani (Tetanus), Clostridium Butulinium (Botulism).

A daughter of a friend of mine died from it from toxic shock syndrome many years ago from a uterine infection caused by it along with the use of Rely Tampons. It was a big scandal about 25 or 30 years ago.

I have had Clostridium Perfringens in an abscess from a IM shot a Vet gave a horse if mine. I was lucky that it became walled off in an abscess because it is the organism that causes gas gangrene and death if not walled off. This was when I started giving all of my own shots. The abscess (the size of a football) had to be surgically removed by a different Vet from the side of the horse's neck.

Most of these organisms are in the soil and on a horse's skin. The horse either has to have a weakened immune system or it has to enter in a puncture wound where it can multiply without air.

All of these are very rare in horses. Botulism and Tetanus are the most common and have vaccines.

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