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-   -   EPM or just arthritis, or . . . (

dragy 03-07-2011 09:06 AM

EPM or just arthritis, or . . .
First, the vet is supposed to be out today sometime (hopefully) - but I still would like some second opinions or to hear anyone's experiences

This is prob going to get a bit long, sorry

Anywho, my friend called me on Saturday night, kind of worried, because her mare just wasn't normal. She said she saw her walking and she was really swaying. By the time she made it to the hay feeder, she was shaky and was breathing a bit heavy. I came over and she seemed alright, standing okay, breathing okay but when she went to move, her hindquarters really leaned and it was like her front end was moving okay, but the back was really delayed. She seemed sort of lethargic as a whole, but her hindquarters def seemed to have a delayed reaction. And too, when she'd place her back feet, a couple times it was like she didn't put them in the right place. She seemed off balance.

We're really worried it might be EPM, because she seems to be showing a few symptoms, but only just a few. However, another reason it freaks us out is because about 5-6 years ago, another friend of ours was keeping her horse there on her property, and he ended up with EPM and had to be put down. We only had the horse two years, so he could have gotten it somewhere else. But I do know that sometimes a horse can have EPM, and not show symptoms for a long time. So, they both could have gotten infected at the same time, and the mare is just symptoms now.

Okay, so now the arthritis. She has had arthritis in all of her legs, I think for the last two years. In late fall, 2009 her legs started stocking up a bit. Once she got moving, the fluid would go away. Last fall, her legs were stocking up really bad, and then her back legs became bowed. I didn't feel comfortable riding her anymore, so when the vet came out that fall, my friend asked him if he thought she was still in shape for riding, and he said yes, she was still okay, just nothing strenuous. I can't remember what he said about her legs bowing out. I only rode her one time after his visit, just walking for like 10-15min. So, last year her back legs were really bowed, it was really obvious. But right now, it seems like they've straightened up. Can arthritis spread to the hips? Can arthritis be so bad that balancing becomes a problem?

So, this mare is about 23, QH, and she walking around now like she has jelly ankles that can't hold her butt up straight :( I know she is older, but to me, she isn't that old. We're just afraid that our vet is going to suggest putting her down. Any thoughts/ideas would really be appreciated. Thanks :)

Speed Racer 03-07-2011 09:16 AM

Oh dear, how awful. :-(

It could be EPM, but it could also be botulism. If it's botulism from plant matter, it's treatable. If it's botulism from an animal carcass, her chances for recovery are slim.

Yes, arthritis can spread anywhere there's cartilage and bone tissue. Many horses get it in their pelvic regions and spines. Arthritis would make it hard for her to walk, but it wouldn't necessarily make her shaky. Sounds like there's definitely something else other than arthritis going on, especially since she's lethargic.

But please don't take my word for it; I'd be waiting for what the vet had to say, since he/she is the professional and will do a blood panel and other tests.

corinowalk 03-07-2011 09:16 AM

In my opinion, arthritis wouldn't cause her balance issues.

I think you need to have the vet come pull blood/spinal fluid to check for EPM. From the symptoms and the history, I would say it is best to at least scratch that off the list first.

dragy 03-08-2011 04:09 PM

The vet was out and pulled some blood yesterday afternoon, to test for EPM first. He just wanted to make sure first of all that it isn't EPM. But I know he thinks that's what it is - and I know she's going to test positive. I've read a couple different statistics that have said 60-70% of horses (I assume in the midwest) have been exposed to EPM, many horses have it but never show symptoms and aren't affected by it.

I'm just afraid that since she is an older horse, the same care or caution won't be given when diagnosing her. But anyway, the test results won't be back until Friday, so I guess we have to wait until then to see where we go from there.

Speed Racer 03-08-2011 04:25 PM

Actually dragy, if the mare does have EPM, the vet will recommend a protocol regardless of her age.

It'll be up to her owner to decide whether or not they want to spend that kind of money keeping an aged mare on expensive medication.

Sarahandlola 03-08-2011 04:47 PM

Sorry to hijack your thread but what is EPM?

Very sorry about the horse though that is scary =(

dragy 03-08-2011 06:48 PM

Well whatever, I guess next time she asks my opinion I'm just going to have to tell her, "Hey pal, that's your decision. Decide for yourself, it's not my problem."

Actually, we shouldn't be concerned that epm is sometimes misdiagnosed, and that there are other diseases and ailments that have the same or similar symptoms.

My friend's fear (and mine) is that our veterinarian is going to suggest that the mare be euthanized even though it might not be necessary. Obviously he can't force her to put her horse down, but sometimes you feel obligated at the opinion of your veterinarian. When I was there yesterday, and he discussed the effectiveness and price of emp treatment, he mentioned her age as a factor to consider when deciding the worth of epm treatment. My friend wasn't there to hear that, but he is right. And in preparing herself in the event that she has to decide wether or not to treat her mare for epm, she has considered her age a deciding factor also.

EPM is a disease of the central nervous system. It comes from opossums mostly, and horses get it by consuming food or water that has been contaminated by the critters. I think it is more common in the midwestern US.


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