Dealing with EPM...Scared out of my MIND! *update* Sadly, horse euthanized.

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Dealing with EPM...Scared out of my MIND! *update* Sadly, horse euthanized.

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    04-28-2012, 09:29 PM
Unhappy Dealing with EPM...Scared out of my MIND! *update* Sadly, horse euthanized.

I have a 13 yr old TB gelding. About three months ago he dropped weight drastically. We started adding things to his grain to help with this (tried Purina Cool Calories, then went to shredded beat pulp, corn oil and calf manna). We also upped his hay intake. Nothing seemed to help. He started to shed out his winter coat and was bald underneath of it. He also around the same time started having trouble urinating (would pee frequently and in very short spurts). I freaked and called our vet. Blood was drawn, tests run and it was determined that he had a severe infection. This infection was causing him to be anemic, have low enzyme levels, his lack of new hair growth, his weight loss...etc. He was given a massive dose of penicillin and put oral antibiotics for two weeks. In this two weeks he started to put some weight back on, it wasn't much but it was noticeable. I thought we were doing good! Not two days after the end of the antibiotics things started going downhill. He was continually weak to the point of needing the barn to lean on to stand. He started hanging his head low, his bottom lip would droop and the weight started coming back off (yes, it was noticeable in such short amount of time). He was then put on an injectable vitamin complex to help with his anemia and enzyme levels (this was thought to be the reason he was so weak). A couple days later he started to stumble and went off his feed almost completely. He was then diagnosed with EPM.
I had heard of this disease in passing only. I started to do my research. What I have read about it terrifies me. His medication had to be ordered (a four day wait) and he has now been on it for three days (tonight will be his fourth dose). I have been told that it will take weeks for him to start to show improvement. The problem is that he is going downhill so fast. He is now completely lame in his back left leg. He practically drags it around. His head is never raised more then a foot and a half off the ground. We have had to move his hay and grain to the ground just to get him to take few bites. He is maybe taking in a quarter of the grain that he was originally and maybe a bead of hay a day. (Charlie is big horse, standing at 16.3, this isnt enough feed to sustain him). He is in so much pain (which he is on banamine for) that he grunts when he walks and refuses to back at all. His weight keeps dropping and he looks like a skeleton. I noticed tonight that he would stand with his head down and his mouth gaping open.
The only bright spot in this is that he hasnt gone down on us yet. He remains standing through it all even with the stumbling and pain that he is in. I have read the statistics for recovery of this disease. 80% recover with a 30% relapse rate. What I want to know, I can't seem to find...How far downhill are they before treatment doesnt work? What % of recovered horses recover enough to be sound for work? How will I know when he is to far gone to keep attempting to treat him? Is there anything that I can mix and basically force feed him (yes with a syringe if I have to) to make sure he is taking in nutrients?
I have never had to deal with ANY type of issues that would make me have to consider euthanizing one of my horses. I suppose you could consider me lucky so far. This is frustrating to the point of sickness. Seeing him as thin and in pain as he is while my other horses are fat and happy is probably the most painful thing in the world for me. I feel so helpless. He looks at me for help and I can't seem to give him anymore then I already am.

Any tips, advice....ANYTHING would be helpful right now. He is on banamine for the pain and ponazuril for the EPM. I bought a jar of Su-per DMSO gel that I had planned to rub on his legs but Im not sure if that is safe to use while he's on the other meds. My vet, although amazing at treating horses, isnt the type of person to stand and answer questions for me.
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    04-28-2012, 09:41 PM
Green Broke
Im so so sorry! I have a friend who just last week put her daughters pony club horse down because of EPM, he was diagnosed a year ago right after pony vlup champion ships in California and they did great and it hit the day after they got home. Hugs to you and your horse! I have never delt with EPM personally but I hope you figure something out that works for both you and your horse! You will be in my thoughts!
    04-28-2012, 09:41 PM
Hi there,
I'm so sorry to hear about your situation, and I'm sorry I can't give you any of the answers you're looking for. But when I read this I just had to reply and say that while I know this must be the most difficult thing ever, you shouldn't feel guilty for not being able to do more. You seem to be doing everything you can and I'm sure your horse appreciates it.
I was almost in tears reading this post, and then when I got to the part where you said your vet "isn't the type of person to stand and answer questions" I felt ill. A good vet should answer ANY question no matter how silly or trivial they think it is (unless they have an emergency to go to or something of course). I think that in order to get peace of mind for yourself and possibly some more answers you should get a second opinion from another vet. I wish we lived in the same area so I could recommend my vet to you, because she's truly incredible. Ask around for recommendations of a good vet who will answer your questions. In the meantime I wish you all the luck in the world and will be praying for you and your horse!
    04-28-2012, 09:45 PM
I'm so sorry you & he are going through this. It sounds like he got hit pretty hard with it.
The meds can stop further nerve damage but usually what damage is already done is not reversed though many horses learn to compensate. Is being hospitalized an option? They could provide IV nutrition for the short term.
You need to write down any & all questions you have & demand some answers from your vet. If he doesn't like to talk that's too bad for him because he has to. You are not going to be able to make any informed decisions until then.
I'll keep hoping for the best outcome possible. Again I'm sorry.
HagonNag and foreveramber like this.
    04-28-2012, 09:50 PM
Thank you guys for the prayers...honestly at this point i'll take whatever I can get. People keep telling me "hes only been on the meds for three days, give it time" they don't have to see him every hour. They don't see the changes in him as things get worse.
Honestly, I havent even spoken to my vet personally since the initial diagnosis of EPM and to give him the contact info of my horses previous owner and vets. All my questions have gone through the nurses at the vets office. Most of my questions they can't seem to answer. I asked one of them what she knew about EPM and her reply was, "nothing, except that its bad". All of my medication orders or other questions have gone through the nurse who has to contact my vet and then the nurse gets back to me. I understand the vet is busy. We only have two equine vets in my town and they are busy busy guys.
    04-28-2012, 09:53 PM
I'm so sorry :(. I'll be sending healing vibes your way.
    04-28-2012, 11:09 PM
Green Broke
What test was used to diagnose the EPM? I'm curious because many times things are diagnosed as EPM that are not EPM.

.How far downhill are they before treatment doesnt work? What % of recovered horses recover enough to be sound for work? How will I know when he is to far gone to keep attempting to treat him?
Its hard to find answers to these questions because they are very individual to the horse. My horse was actually falling down when he had it as a 4 year old, but he recovered and is now a good trail horses. Some horses don't get near as bad and never recover to riding soundness. As to % that recover - I really don't know. I believe I read somewhere that a medication for EPM is considered successful as long as 60 or 70% of the test horses improve 2 grade scales. I'm saying this off of memory - so I'm not 100% positive, but it was something like that.

As to when not to attempt treatment - again, that is very individual decision and no one should make you feel bad for either trying treatment or putting him down. Its extremely hard and I'm so sorry you are facing this right now. Originally I said I would not treat Toby again if he came down with it again, but when faced with a few symptoms I had worried might be it I was questioning that decision. I don't think I know what I will do again if I'm ever faced with it until it happens.

My vet did have my horse on a DMSO IV a couple times a day when he was first diagnosed and it seemed to help him for a bit afterwards and didn't impact the effectiveness of the medication. I don't know about a rub for the legs though.

You may want to look into giving a cup of corn oil after administering the meds (mix in a tasty feed) as it is believed the oil administered right after the ponazuril helps it be absorbed better.

Also look into therapeutic levels of vitamin E. I believe it was 18000 IU per day - but I would have to double check that number. Vitamin E helps with the nerve regeneration and helps through the recovery. Just make sure its pure Vitamin E and not mixed with selenium or something else that could be overdosed. Your vet should be able to get it for you.

Good luck to you and your horse. EPM is a hard and trying disease and again, I'm so sorry.
    04-28-2012, 11:38 PM
I had a gelding treated for EPM about 5 years ago. He was given 4 doses of an DMSO IV treatment that took a few days to get in from another vet in Kentucky. The important thing was starting treatment asap because from what I was told, horses doesn't fully recover from EPM. Whatever damage is done, is done. There is no "reverse" for the disease, only an "off button" so technically there isn't a cure for the damage that's been done.

Cat says that her horse, to the point of falling down, recovered enough to be a trail horse. That is positive thinking.

My horse wasn't to the point of falling down, but it's like he didn't know where to place his back feet. He would stand with one foot ontop of the other and not even realize that it was there and trip when he'd go to move forward. We did the bloodtest and he came back positive for EPM, but there are also "false-positives" to where the horse may carry EPM, but not show any outward symptoms. My vet said many horses if you tested them, EPM would show up in their bloodwork due to having been exposed to it before. The most common way of getting it she said was raccoon feces. (disgusting creatures!)

My horse was never to the point of where yours was. I can't even say for sure that he had EPM, but he was treated with the DMSO IV. 4 times over the course of 12 days. He recovered well..

Depending on the severity of your horse...Which it sounds like it's pretty severe...You'll be able to tell what's best for them. If Charlie were my horse, I'd have to realize when the point of no return was and do what's best for the horse. The pain that he's going through must be unbearable. Being off his feed for so long and depending on the amount of water he's drinking is major. If he's not drinking enough water, his kidneys are going to fail. Has your vet down a renal panel on him to check his kidney output? I'd definitely look into that because if your horse is going through acute kidney failure, no amount of EPM treatment will help him.

There comes a point when we have to look at our horse and decide what's best for him, while pushing our selfish desires aside. I told myself if my horse goes off his feed, if he's not improving my X date, then I would make the call and put him to sleep.

I'm so sorry that your going through this. It's difficult.
    04-28-2012, 11:44 PM
Green Broke
Actually its opossum rather than raccoon that spreads it.
natisha and candandy49 like this.
    04-28-2012, 11:52 PM
^^^ I completely forgot about those disgusting creatures too. Ick.

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