View Full Version : Well Crap

05-19-2009, 04:27 PM
I just learned my horse, a gelding whose birth I witnesed, a mere 13 years old has just been diagnosed with EPM-

This is a protozoic disease that affects the brain and central nervous system, systems are very diverse- he presented with a ataxia and a stiff legged gait.
I am consumed with guilt because he exhibited this gait on the leg he recently injured- I chalked it up to that and delayed treatment-

He is now being treated, but I don't know how the my hesitation will affect his recovery.

Anyone have any experience with this disease? I was the first to ride this horse, I have trained him since he was 4. I don't care if i ever ride him again- i just want him to be ok-

05-19-2009, 04:52 PM
So sorry hope your boy will be okay. Don't beat yourself up about thinking the stiff gait was caused by the injury. I"m sure most pet owners would have thought the exact same thing. I know I've assumed one thing and it turned out to be another with my pets. Many hugs for you both

05-19-2009, 05:21 PM
I have no personal experience, but I know that EPM is a very puzzling disease. Even if you thought to call a vet immediately it would have taken awhile to properly diagnose your boy. :Hug2:

A couple things I know:

This disease is caused by parasites. Opposums are the host of this parasite and horses get EPM if they eat or drink something contaminated by opposum feces. A horse is a dead end for this disease (so if you have other horses you don't need to worry about them "catching" it... though they could be affected by the same original source).

True treatment does depend on how early on it is noticed. The damage done to the nervous system is basically done (performance will be affected) and now we are working to stop further damage.

There is a vaccine, but it is still in initial stages. It can also confuse vets since an EPM test will automatically come back positive even if the horse doesn't have EPM, just because of the vaccine.

Really, it is a puzzle. They don't know all that much. But at this point don't get too worried. There is treatment and I don't believe your horse will get much worse. :)

05-19-2009, 06:12 PM
I hope your boy makes a full recovery, sheadakota.

05-19-2009, 08:00 PM
((Hugs)) I know what it's like when one of your furbabies isn't feeling well. :(

And I would have thought it was because of his sore leg at first, too. Don't beat yourself up.

Soccer Mom
05-20-2009, 01:45 AM
I hope he's okay. Don't beat yourself up too much. We do the best we can for them and it's not unreasonable to think a stiff leg is the result of a recent injury. {{{hugs}}}

05-20-2009, 01:54 AM

I will echo the what the others have said. No beating allowed.

05-20-2009, 02:19 AM
Ahhh- thanks guys- I will think positively-Yesterday was only day one of treatment, so I am trying to be patient. I just want him to okay NOW!

He is so good about taking his medicine (well I shove it down his throat with a syringe, but he puts up with it!)

He is the son of the horse in my sig- a beautiful palamino Quarter horse- with a white blaze and four white socks- full of personality and a beautiful ride- thanks so for your support- I'll keep you updated-

05-20-2009, 02:32 AM
Wow. This floored me. I've never heard of it before, and we have six horses, all of which run on full pasture at all times. We have them wormed and vaccinated, of course, and I assumed that they were safe from most diseases. I would have never thought that they could be harmed by opossums. We have tons of possums around here. The dog drags them home all the time, and after they recover from their stupor, I generally let them wander back to their placid little lives. Maybe I should get the .22 out, instead?

We recently had a mare pull up lame, and all I wanted was for her not to be in pain. I was fine with the thought of permanently retiring her and never riding her again, so long as she was not in pain. She recovered, and I really, really hope your big fella does to. Keep us posted.

05-20-2009, 02:49 AM
I felt the same way- I remember reading an aritcle in Equus about EPM- but only after the fact- It can also be spread by birds but that is much rarer. my only consulation is that there is really nothing you can do to prevent it. Like you I don't care if he is a big ol' lawn ornament for the rest of his life. I just want him to be ok.

Thanks for the well wishes.

05-20-2009, 03:09 AM
I tell people to go ahead and kick yourself in the butt once but only if you'll agree to get on the forgineness wagon. If you asked your horse to forgive you for being a dork what do you think he would say?

(((((HUG)))))So sorry.

I've been there. I'm sure my cat would say, of course I forgive you.

05-20-2009, 03:11 AM
The safest, easiest way to protect your horse from EPM (but not fully) is to secure your grain from possums. Like metal tins with latches secure. And of course, don't spill it everywhere.

But that said, there's tons out there on EPM. Hopefully once the inflammation goes down, Shea, your boy will feel better. And while you may never be good for cantering through rolling fields or a trek through a canyon, hopefully it will be more 'lameness' concerns than stumbling issues once he's got those nasties out of him.

I would read up on it and talk to your vet again to insure you are doing all you need to do right now. I'm not sure if you'd want to add antiinflammatories or when you'd want to retest (some don't retest at all iirc. It's an expensive test. Either the drug worked or it didn't. There's no other choice for treatment sadly).

And yeah, keep us posted. :Hug2:

05-20-2009, 03:59 AM
Thanks B- All our grain is secured, but there are tons of the little critters in the woods which surround my roughly 20 acres of pasture- nothing I can do about that- I was reading about vit E and B-12 supplements- Vet is coming back tomorrow- I'll ask her about that-

Thanks very much for all the love and support-

05-20-2009, 11:50 PM
The Vet was by today. Dakota is still no better after three days on steroids, but what is done is done. Good news is he isnot in pain, he can move (run) when he wants to- its not pretty but he can do it- She doesn't think this is a life-ending scenario- I may never ride him again and he may learn how to compensate for the insult to his nervous system, but he will never be sound- I don't care- he can just be my great big lawn ornament for the rest of his life-
We are starting him on a new protazoic med, soo we will see what that does-

05-24-2009, 06:16 PM
Just an update- We are starting Dakota on an anti-protozoa drug called marquis- a tad pricey- over 700$ for one month- YIKES! But that was the best price we could find- the vet wanted to charge us a cool grand-
Bad news is- the damage that is done is irreversable- he may developed new neuro-pathways to compensate for the damamge over time- sort of like a stroke victim. He is not in pain and he will follow his mom to the upper pasture to graze. I may even be able to ride him gently around my property- but at least I will still have him-
Just thought I would let you all know how its going-

05-24-2009, 06:20 PM
Hope your boy continues to improve. I'm glad you're happy to have him as a big lawn ornament if you can't ride him. Hope he reamins out of pain and the new treatment helps some more.

05-24-2009, 07:02 PM
Glad Dakota is doing well, and yeah, that drug is crazy expensive. Don't drop it or leave it in the sun ;)

Lots of hugs for him.

05-24-2009, 08:59 PM
Praying for you that he will be ok and keeps improving. ((((((HUGS))))).