Treating a horse with EPM

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Treating a horse with EPM

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    03-20-2011, 08:50 PM
Treating a horse with EPM

My horse started to show sypmtoms of having Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis. My vet came out and took his blood for testing. I am waiting for the results. I was wondering if anyone else has had a horse diagnosed with EPM. What kind of treatments did you use? Did your horse fully recover and be able to be used for riding?
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    03-20-2011, 09:22 PM
I haven't had to deal with this one, try sending a PM to Cat, I know that she has brought one of hers through this. Hopefully that isn't what it is, but the more research you do the better you'll be able to cope. Keeping fingers crossed for you.
    03-20-2011, 09:42 PM
Green Broke
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.
    03-20-2011, 09:44 PM
Green Broke
Two other quick things. Keeping them out in a coral where they can safely move around seems to help. Toby always seems to back-track and get worse if he was stalled for any length of time. Also an EPM horse tends to have more issues when it gets extremely hot out. Even after he got going under saddle he would have off days on really hot days and so we wouldn't ride even after it cooled off for the day. I just got in that habit and I still won't take Toby out on a day that had been too hot.
    03-20-2011, 10:16 PM
Cat thank you for all the information! I am not exactly sure what test my vet is sending in for but I will find out. I know as of right now we are not going to do the spinal tap. When my vet came to examine him she blindfolded him and made him walk which made his symptoms much worse. He is very uncoordinated with his back legs and worse on his right side. His mouth seems to be twitching alot lately. If his results do come back positive I will be using Marquis also. I just ordered smartpaks of vitamin E and selenium and B1 supplements. I am happy to hear that you had good results and that gives me hope. It is very sad to see one of my horses go through this. Thank you so much for the advice :)
    05-11-2011, 10:02 PM
There is more up-to-date information here:

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