Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: South of No-where
What test specifically is your vet sending in for? Some of the possible ones are western blot, SAG1, ELISA, or IFAT. If you don't know, could you find out? There are several out there and some require a spinal tap and fluid for the most accurate result. However, none of the tests are 100% accurate yet. Now if they come back negative, you can be almost positive that your horse does not have it.
If it comes back positive that means it *could* be the problem. That is why diagnosing EPM is frustrating and your vet really should be working on ruling out other possibilities as well. Wasn't too long ago on another board someone's vet thought their horse had EPM for sure and it ended up actually being wobblers. Symptoms can look identical to many things, including: equine encephalitis, west nile virus, EHV-1, lyme disease, selenium deficiency, spinal injury, and toxic plants.
When I treated Toby we used Marquis paste. It has a high success rate and none of the side effects of navigator. The first weekend when he first came down with symptoms my vet brought him back to the clinic and hooked him up to a DMSO drip several times through the weekend and he seemed to get some relief. Then once we determined it was EPM we treated with Marquis and gave him corn oil w/ food about 10-15 minutes before we dosed him. The oil is supposed to help the horse absorb the marquis.
The other supplements we kept him on during treatment and even afterwards was MSM and Vitamin E at therapeutic levels (I believe that was 8000 IU - but any vet should know the proper dosage). I really do believe the vitamin E helped with the rehab because its supposed to help with the nervous system healing.
Now while treating with marquis around week 2 of treatment the horses sometimes show a worsening of symptoms. Scary as it is to see it, this can be a good thing. Its the die off of the protozoa so can indicate the med is working.
Unfortunately even if the meds work and all the protozoa die off, the damage is still left. Its there and its permanent. Think of it like a stroke victim. Now with proper rehab some of them can come back and function like normal - especially if treatment started early enough. The body needs to be re-taught how to do things - i.e. learning how to properly mobilize those back legs on an EPMer. It can be done but is usually a long process and sadly I have to say - some never come back to 100% or even close to where they used to be. Some might not improve past pasture pet, while others might have been performance horses that are now restricted to light riding. Its a sad reality.
On the positive side, there are horses who come back when given enough time. My boy has. It took 8 months of rehab (hand walking) before I got back in the saddle and even then it was very light work - mostly walking. 1 year before we started doing trot work. The canter under saddle took even longer, but he has it now.
Toby got EPM when he was 4. He is now 10 and my main trail horse. He loves to go and can out ride most other horses we go out with and always wants to be leader of the group.
All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!