Pigeon fever in horses

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Interview with Dr. Tamara GullGull photo

Pigeon fever in horses is on the rise in Oklahoma. It is an infection by a bacterium that results in abscess formation in the chest area, between the front legs of the horse causing swelling of the chest, and hence the term “pigeon fever”.

In the past, this disease was very uncommon in Oklahoma and restricted mostly to California, but it’s becoming much more common here. How it is spread is not fully understood, but it seems to be associated with dry, dusty drought conditions and may be spread by flies.

When these abscesses develop externally in the chest area, Veterinarians treat them by lancing the abscesses, allowing them to drain. Antibiotics may or may not be needed. In some cases however, these abscesses can be internal and much more serious, resulting in fever, colic, weight loss and even death. An ultrasound examination can detect internal abscesses and a blood test can help diagnose this disease.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice any kind of abscess in the chest region of your horse or other signs of general illness.

Raising healthy foals

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Interview with Dr. Tamara GullGull photo

Few things are cuter than baby horses, or foals but raising a healthy foal can be a challenge.

The mare, or mother horse, should be in good health with ample nutrition. Giving birth in a clean, open pasture is ideal for horses, and reduces their exposure to the diseases and parasites found in barns and stalls. Treating the navel cord with an antiseptic solution, such as chlorhexidine, helps prevent the entry of bacteria into the newborn foal’s body. Vaccinations for the mare should be boosted about six weeks before she gives birth to ensure she has high levels of antibodies to give to her baby.

In horses, it is crucial that the foal nurses in the first six hours of life to receive the antibody rich colostrum that protects it from disease. Failure to receive sufficient colostrum can be life-threatening in horses. Your veterinarian can conduct a simple test to see if your foal has received the protection it needs.

Taking care of a few basics can help ensure that today’s frolicking foal will reach its full potential, and grow to be the thriving horse of tomorrow.

The Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab

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Interview with Dr. Sandra MorganSandra Morgan

Located across the street from the OSU veterinary medical hospital and college, the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab is home to an amazing team of scientists who use a wide array of specialties to unravel the mysteries of animal disease.

The lab takes in samples, or whole animals that have died, from veterinarians and owners, to determine the cause of death or find what evidence is present about a specific disease. They conduct a multitude of tests for many diseases and toxins.

They help food animal producers to determine the causes of production loss. They help to prevent the spread of disease by running needed tests for health certificates. The laboratory analyzes all sorts of samples for pathology, including analyzing surgical biopsy samples, diagnosing and staging various cancers, and preparing samples for rabies testing.

Animal owners and veterinarians have an invaluable resource for the protection of animal health in the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab.