June 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm
I’m wondering if any of you know of, or own, a horse with EPM (equine protozoal myeloencephalitis)? I’m not looking for information, I’m looking to connect with people familiar with this infection so I know what to expect. My horse is being treated by a veterinarian, and I had a very brief chat with the vet’s assistant. Since this condition is very rare in my part of the world (I live in the California high desert), my vet doesn’t see it every day. But her tech, a recent UC Davis vet school graduate, said that lately they’ve gotten a lot of horses in from Northern California with it. I can already see an improvement in my horse, and I’d love to talk to other owners familiar with it.July 3, 2014 at 12:56 pmMapaleTopics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421
I’m sorry that your horse is fighting EPM. Since it is transmitted by opossums who are common in the East, this is usually more of an Eastern problem although it is thankfully rare. I’ve known two horses who had EPM, sadly neither survived. One belonged to my neighbor (a beautiful and sweet doll-baby of a horse, a TWH) and the other was a gorgeous prized Arab belonging to my cousin. The complications of a weakened immune system was the final straw for one, and the other died outright from EPM. I know of one horse, a TWH, that survived, and that was due to the expertise of the vet and vigorous and early treatment. She had a vet who was long in the tooth and had extensive knowledge of EPM. My neighbor swears to this day that she could have saved her gelding if she had known about that vet. (He was my vet too, and has since retired.) This is a tough diagnosis, and having faced tough prognoses in my horses’ lives, I know how difficult this is. It may be important to get a second opinion, if so, find the top expert on EPM. I trailered my mare over a hundred miles once to an expert on lameness and it saved her. That’s my best advice; getting a second opinion has saved more than one horse I’ve known. Keep the faith, keep vigilant, and keep fighting.
I hesitated to respond to your post – people don’t like questioning their vet – and I’ve had negative reactions in the past when I’ve suggested it. But on at least two occasions I’ve been thanked profusely later. It’s not a pleasant step, and if your local vet resents it, then you have another problem, mine did and we severed our relationship over it. But I did what needed to be done to save my horse. No regrets.
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...July 3, 2014 at 1:50 pm
Thank you so much for answering! Luckily I did get a second opinion, from my own vet. Some background. I was looking for a trail horse when a longtime friend said she had a horse she had gotten out of a kill yard in Pennsylvania–a spotted ASB–but she had wanted him as a parade horse and he won’t tolerate band music, so she had no use for him. (She owns a lot of horses.) She told me he was free, and because we’re friends, she was going to tell me everything about him, the bad as well as the good, because she wants to stay friends. He’s 16 years old and almost 16 hands, been a trail horse all his life, has a nice mouth and a willing attitude. But he has EPM–was foaled in OH, nobody knows how long he’s had it, and her husband, a large animal vet, had started him on medication. And the horse didn’t like to canter. (I suspect that’s a result of the EPM–he doesn’t trust his balance.) I took him, and as soon as he got settled and his shoes pulled (he still had borium on them), my vet came out. She corroborated the diagnosis and gave me a list of things I ought to do, but admitted that going by the book was expensive and would not yield a definitive diagnosis, and the best idea was to continue the medication. But she strongly recommended giving him a different dosage. My friend’s husband only gave the horse medication for a couple of weeks at a time, whenever the horse’s symptoms flared up. My vet wanted me to commit to put him on the full 3-5 month course of the medication.
After reading up on the medication, my husband agreed we should do it. We’re now ending our third month and plan to continue the medication one more month. The improvement has been dramatic, as the vet tech told me had been the case with the UC Davis horses. I ride him when I can, always on dirt roads or trails with a minimum of rocks. (We’re already having + 100-degree days.)
I thank you for your advice to get a second opinion, and for telling me about the cases you know about. That’s exactly the kind of info I was looking for–I’m glad at least ONE of the horses survived. Most of the UC Davis horses did. Thanks so much for writing!July 3, 2014 at 6:46 pmMapaleTopics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421
I thought about it for a day before responding because I did not want to discourage you about your horse’s potential for recovery. It’s been six years since my neighbor’s horse died, and I would hope great strides have been made in the understanding and treatment of EPM. That bond we have with our horses can sometimes pull them through impossible situations, and I have every belief your more aggressive approach will yield positive results. Kudos to you for doing it. Please keep us posted.
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...July 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm
Thanks, Mapale. I will definitely keep you posted!August 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm
My horse was diagnosed in May. We did 58 days of meds. And high doses of vit E. He is doing great!he lost all the muscle on the left side of his head,but it is finally starting to come back very slowly.Im able to ride him again and taking it slow. Marquis is really a good treatment.
16 years ago we lost a horse to EPM after he relapsed three times. The meds are much better now.
Good luckAugust 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm
Ponychick, thanks very much for writing. A coincidence that you wrote today, because today was the last day of Scout’s meds–he’s been on them four months now, and the recommended dosage is three to five months. The vet will be out on Saturday–I think she will be surprised at his progress. I doubt he can improve much more than he has already. His problem was mainly on his right side. He had to eat standing sideways to his feeder so he could prop himself against the corral. Working on his hind feet was nearly impossible because he was so afraid of falling over he wouldn’t give you his left hind leg. And he preferred not to canter at all–my friend told me if I wanted a horse with a nice, smooth, collected canter, this horse wasn’t it. But he WAS it, for me, and now when I free-longe him he canters when he feels comfortable doing it, both ways of the ring, and I leave the choice to him.
A relapse has been my biggest worry. I asked the UC Davis vet assistant about it. The horses there are getting the same meds Scout was, a pyrimethamine/sulfadiazine solution, and she said none of them have relapsed. The real wild card with Scout is that nobody knows how long he’s had this, or if anybody tried to treat him–and with what. But his improvement has been so dramatic that I can only hope we got all the nasty little protozoa, and that maybe someday I can canter him! I’m taking it slow too. Thank you again for writing, and I hope your horse makes it too. His progress sounds very positive!August 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm
I too am concerned with a relapse. My vet says that a new study showed that if you use the pelleted,new treatment,every couple of months ,for 10 days at a time,it was working as a preventative.I haven’t decided to do that or not? Trying to get more info first.
Sounds like your horse is doing well,too.best wishesAugust 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm
I didn’t realize that Marquis is the first FDA-approved treatment for EPM. The medication that both vets suggested for Scout hasn’t been approved, but is apparently still the treatment of choice for many veterinarians and at least one vet school, UC Davis. At least I know that I have an option if the meds Scout has been taking don’t work on him. What kind of pellets is your vet talking about? A pelleted form of Marquis? Let me know what you find out, and I’ll do the same. Good luck to both our horses.August 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm
It’s called Protazil.August 7, 2014 at 8:56 pmJoe-JoeTopics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205
A boarder at my farm has a horse who has had it. He gets some sort of treatments, and currently is doing very well. He can be ridden, and she is more interested in just wandering around the trails than ring work, so it hasn’t been as much of an ordeal as I understand it could be. He can walk, trot and occasionally canter. When next I see her (she works in Delaware, and the horse is in Virginia), I will refer her to this forum.
It is never the horse's faultAugust 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm
ponychick, I’ll print your comments and give them to my vet tomorrow to see what she thinks. The Protazil may be specifically designed to work with Marquis, and if that’s the case, she may not want to use it. Have you decided to put your horse on it? And may I ask where you live? Just the state, just so I can get an idea of your horse’s environment.
Joe-Joe, you made me laugh when you said the owner of an EPM horse at your barn “is more interested in just wandering around the trails than ring work.” To me, “wandering around the trails” is what it’s all about–scenery on horseback. It’s also a good way to see how much you’ve accomplished with your ring work, and whether or not it has real-world applications. (I don’t think your boy is quite there yet!) But primarily it’s a good counter-balance to ring work, and most horses enjoy it. Thank you very much for the offer to refer the owner to this topic. I appreciate it!August 8, 2014 at 5:14 pmJoe-JoeTopics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205
The boy is afraid of the trails – too much nature. We generally go sideways until we go past his pasture, his barn and his stablemates. Then we canter sideways, as he has never seen these things before. I used to love trail riding because the ring is boring, but it isn’t so pleasant nowadays. However, I really meant (and was too lazy to type) is that she doesn’t care that he cannot do the more difficult maneuvers required in a ring.
It is never the horse's faultAugust 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm
I’m interested in hearing what your vet says. I haven’t decided yet on the pellets.
On top of it my horse has heaves,and can’t have dex shots(which work great) this year because of his EPM. We are thinking that beening on dex for the heaves,made his immune system weak,why he may of got EPM.
Located in central OK. Turn out on large pasture during the day and in stall at night. We do have opossums around.
It will be interesting to see what your vet says.August 8, 2014 at 6:46 pm
Joe-Joe, I hope your boy gets to the point where he truly enjoys trail riding. I’m with your owner–I don’t care if Scout can’t do a lot beyond the basics. Because he has problems with his right hind leg, most lateral work is beyond him except for a very basic leg yield.
ponychick, I will definitely let you know what my vet has to say. That’s not great news, that your horse has the heaves on top of the EPM–poor guy! When Scout’s hooves started “shedding,” my first thought was that the meds were responsible. I am feeding him a kind of specifically targeted poison, and it has to affect his entire body. My farrier told me he wasn’t worried, he’s seen it on a lot of other horses, especially drafts–one Freisian (another word I can’t spell today) in particular. But I still have my suspicions!
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