Friday, December 30, 2005
I don't know why but there is just something really funny about this..."pack of angry Chihuahuas attack Officer"I would expect perhaps a Mailman but not a Cop.
Maybe the body armor should cover the ankles.....
" Little did Elliott Ness and his Untouchables know but the dreaded Chihuahua Gang was coming up the back steps"
Monday, December 12, 2005
One last farm call to make , for a tired old Horse Vet
The horses were snuggled, and tucked in their stalls
Where the only thing moving, were the mice in the walls
Their feed buckets were hung, by the stall doors with care
In the hopes that The Horse Doctor, soon would be there
Out in the paddock, there arose quite a fussin’
The hot wire was on, and someone was cussin’
I ran to the window, and stuck my nose through the curtain
“I think that’s the Doc", looks like he’s limping for certain”
From out in the barn, came the faint scent of Brandy
And he was passing out meds, as if it were candy
Some Bute for your lameness, Dexamethasone for you
Antibiotics for that one, and some Banamine too
As he walked back to his truck, he screamed as if shot
“I reckon he forgot, that the wire was still hot”
I could still hear him fussin’, as he drove down the hill
“Merry Christmas to all, I’ll just send you the bill”
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The summer of surf continues as the winter of surf. The down side is " IT"S COLD". The water temp is now down to 65 degrees and falling towards the 50's (and I live in Florida). Air temp in the 40's this morning but we still went out, and it reminded me that I have been off the weights for over a month. Paddling out in a wetsuit keeps you warm ("er") but the last 20-30 yards through the waves was some work. I have the weekend off emergency duty so it was still good to get out. December is tough but Feb is the worst. Heres hoping the swells keep coming , you can follow whats going on at "the surf-station" web site. Tory does a great job of doing daily reports, even on the cold days.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I've seen alot of "Grizwalds" over the years but this is without a doubt the absolute best. Whoever this is has way to much time and is clearly a techie. To keep the neighbors from going nuts the music is played on a low power radio transmitter and you tune to the frequency in your car. Turn the sound up on your computer and listen to the "Trans Siberian Orchestra".....this is cool.
Theres nothing quite like bright flashing lights that makes one harken back to a simpler time and place.....NOT.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I have recently recieved several questions concerning Viruses in general and the Bird Flu in particular so I thought I would give a short tutorial on the subject. If it's to in depth....sorry, I have a habit of doing that.
More in depth info can be found HERE.
One way to think of viruses in very small microscopic machines that have the ability to invade your cells, reproduce within them and then exit in mass numbers to infect other cells. If you picture this happening you can see why you feel so bad as this is happening. Once a virus gains access to the body (usually through the respiratory system) it attaches to the surface of the respiratory epithelium ( via the "H" protein, Hemaglutinin) and then inserts itself or is absorbed by endocytosis (cellular engulfing). Once within the cell, the virus begins replication protected from attack by the immune system. Once a significant number (crital mass) of viral particles is obtained within the cell, they are expelled (via "N" protein, Neuraminadase) and the process is repeated again. The bodies immune system is in a virtual race with the virus as anti-bodies are produced to the surface proteins and replicated for distribution throughout the body as a defense against the rapidly spreading infection. As you can imagine, if you have never been exposed to a virus before them the immune system is at a significant disadvantage and lags way behind the shear number of viruses produced. If the immune system can't get the upper hand in this fight then you lose to many respiratory cells and you can no longer breath.....game over. From this you can see why there is such interest in the current "bird flu" and the recent human to human transfer everyone has feared (New Scientist breaking news)Here is a chart on the basic facts about the Orthomyxoviruses of which Influenza is a member.
ORTHOMYXOVIRIDAE: The Influenza Viruses
- STRUCTURE: ss (-) RNA, segmented, helical nucleocapsid, enveloped.
- Cell envelope is acquired by budding through plasma membrane.
- Hemagglutinin (HA) on viral envelope attaches to sialic acid receptor on host cells. One source of antigenic types.
- There are 15 subtypes of HA. H1, H2, H3 exist in humans.
- Neuraminidase (NA) is released from infected cells. Another source of antigenic types.
- There are 9 subtypes of NA. Only N1, N2 are found in humans.
- REPLICATION: In host nucleus. Cap-snatching transcription. Viral RNA's utilize portions of host-cell RNA to make their own 5' Cap in the host cell nucleus.
- ANTIGENIC VARIATION:
- Antigenic Shift: Major source of antigenic variation, due to re-assortment of the RNA genome segments. It leads to changes of subtype of the envelope glycoproteins.
- Antigenic Drift: Minor changes in antigenic variation, due to point mutations in the genome.
- INFLUENZA VIRUS-A: 8 segments.
- DISTRIBUTION: Found in humans, aquatic birds, swine, horses, seals, whales.
- EPIDEMIOLOGY: This is the major player in flu epidemics, because of its antigenic variation. Highly contagious, spread by person-to-person contact.
- MANIFESTATIONS: It targets the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract, upper and lower.
- Epithelial cells become ciliastatic as a result of infection, which can predispose to more serious bacterial infections.
- Incubation Period: 1-4 days.
- Symptoms: Soar throat, fever, chills, myalgia, headache.
- Normally Self-Limiting infection, lasting 3-7 days. Cough may last 1-2 weeks.
- INFLUENZA VIRUS-B: 8 segments
- DISTRIBUTION: Found only in humans
- EPIDEMIOLOGY: Less serious infection than Type-A. Generally found in children or adolescents.
- Influenza-B does not undergo reassortments or antigenic shift.
- INFLUENZA VIRUS-C: 7 segments.
- DISTRIBUTION: Found in humans and swine.
- EPIDEMIOLOGY: Rarely causes diseases. Ubiquitous, and we all generally have antibodies by early childhood.
- INFLUENZA VACCINE: Constantly updated, as CDC keeps track of antigenic types of latest strains.
- In the past they've used inactivated whole viruses.
- This year they are using a trivalent subunit vaccine consisting of purified viral HA antigen: (1) Type-A H1N1 and (2) H3N2, and Type-B antigen.
- Vaccine administered during the fall. Breakouts are in winter.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
As horses live longer we have to deal with the everymore likely possibility of "cancer".
One of these is a small tumor on the Pituitary gland at the base of the brain. The Pituitary gland is responsible for regulation of Hormone production in the body and as tumors develop they cause an abnormal production of these substances. In the Horse this frequently leads to "Cushings Disease" and a wide array of clinical signs such as Laminitis, a long curly hair coat and excessive drinking. The big problem is the laminitis and hoof abcesses which can spell disaster for your horse, the key is picking up the problem early. To do this we do an extensive physical exam to see if this could actually be Metabolic syndrome (another problem) and then do diagnostic testing for organ function and a dexamethasone suppression test. While the tumor itself is not treatable at this point there are medications we can use to control the clinical signs. Primarily we use Cyproheptidine and Pergolide . The cost of treatment is usually less than $60 dollars a month and can keep your horse is reasonably good health for years to come. Stay alert for any of these symptoms in your horse and watch for the wavy hair that doesn't shed out in the summer.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Things seem to be heating up on the Bird Flu front ( Great Britain) and (China) and it makes you wonder about the development of persistent cross species transfer. There has recently been a similar event seen in Florida where Equine Influenza has been linked to an outbreak of respiratory disease in Greyhounds ( here ). As is the concern in people with Bird Flu, the Greyhounds had no immunity to this virus, and it was severe. When there is no antibody response to an infection it replicates unchecked through the body damaging any system it is geared to. Influenza is primarily a respiratory virus and replicates in bronchial and alveolar epithelium. When these cells are infected they become swollen and leak cellular fluid and eventually slough into the airway. This causes reduced oxygen exchange and excess fluid in the lungs making breathing difficult. Those that die essentially drown. Not a pretty picture. There have been cases where the current Bird flu
has been transfered to yet another species (cats and pigs ). With the current spread of the virus through Asia, it is reasonable to assume that ferrel cats could work as another vector if there eat infected wild birds. We currently know the virus can infect humans but as of yet no human to human transfer has developed. With these early signs of inter-species transfer we will have to watch closely for signs of human to human spread. This will most likely show up as a village
epidemic either in Asia or Africa.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I had a call from the sister in law last night "I think I just saw your stabbed horse on the news". Yup, there he was...in living color , on the 11:00 news. Now, I don't want to down play the significance of the injury but we are rapidly approaching media saturation with an article on the front page of the Metro section in todays paper and another segment on the evening news tonight.
The local station even had a link to a site about the incident that stated that the bills could run as high as $15,000 and ......you could make donations ( NOTE-this wasn't my site). I've looked at my bill and I'm still not sure how you get to that figure. I'm just waiting on the call from Geraldo....... or my attorney.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
What you see in the news is a discription of the virus as H & N numbers. This is related to surface makers H= hemagglutinin ( 16 subtypes) and N= neuraminidase(9 subtypes), this one is classified as H5N1. This flu infects birds and has spread to humans working with them in about 160 cases in asia. Of these cases about 40% were fatal, making it a serious world health risk. The buzz word is "pandemic", which is a new disease that spreads from person to person. There have been 3 pandemics in the last 100 years , the first being the flu outbreak at the turn of the last century(1918)and most recently in 1968. The concern is that this virus will spread as the birds migrate towards Africa where a significant number of people suffer from AIDS and have a weakened immune system. This provides an environment where the virus can come in contact with others and could mutate into a form that can spread by direct human contact.
The current thought is that should this happen it could be in the US within two months. Hmmmmmm, makes you think. The reason this would be so devastating is that the human immune system has never seen this virus before and has no antibodies directed against it.....
it would be like having AIDS or having had chemotherapy and getting the flu. There would be nothing in your body to stop it. So where do we go from here. Right now it is just wait and see as to what the virus does over the next few years ( you'll hear about it again). The stock piling of drugs such as Tamiflu isn't warranted at this point and the current flu shot won't help ( although it is still a good idea for other reasons). This has the potential to be real bad, but there have always been bugs like this out there and we never heard about them until the 24 hour news cycle, the difference now is the amount of global travel and how fast one can spread around the world. Keep your eyes open for changes and keep reading. I've always thought that it wouldn't be man's violence or stupidity that would do us in......it would be the BUGS.
Friday, October 28, 2005
This is so devastating to all involved. After a sonogram of the upper limb a comminuted fracture was evident and I humanely put her down. I've been in practice for many years and this never gets easier. It still sucks. The day ended cloudy and colder.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
After we confirm the diagnosis with a sweat test we are left with a disease that has few effective treatments so we frequently try them all. These include electrolyte supplementation, One AC,daily beer and recently the use of prostaglandins. Some improve and many don't so we are left with trying to just get through the summer with environmental control. One promising inovation is the use of a fan/misting system similar to the "kool-zone" fans used by sports teams. One of our clients found a company that makes the mist/fog tubing and employed a large fan to build her own.
This tubing can be found at www.farmtek.com and is about $50.00. This was set up in a walk-in,walk-out stall and uses only about one gallon/hour of water so there isn't a muddy mess
in the area. The horse then has the option of moving in and out as needed, but on really bad days they seem to stay in there alot. I encourge you to try this in those cases that don't respond to treatment. Good luck.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
which has an article on "Unlocking Stifle Problems" by Michelle Anderson. This article deals with
UFP / upward fixation of the patella and for the most part is sound advice. The problem we frequently see in our practice is the unfit (I thought it was fit) horse. This problem (UFP)
arises from a laxity of the Medial patellar ligament which is part of the horses reciprocal apporatus
or locking mechanism which allows the horse to rest standing up. With UFP the ligament is lax or longer and hangs up on the medial side of the femur which causes pain and a stiff leg which drags
the toe behind. Frequently this leg "pops" as the limb comes forward. The old treatment was to
"clip" or "cut" the stifle. This is a surgical procedure where the medial patellar ligament is severed to prevent it form locking. The downside to this is a BIG one.....fracture of the patella. In 15-20% of the cases this occurs and can do so at anytime after the surgery leaving you with an expensive pasture orniment. The only time we do the procedure anymore is in cases where the limb is locked and we are unable to reduce it by backing up the horse. The best treatment is exercise, either straight line or long line lungeing. This builds up the quadricep muscles and thereby pulls the patella into place eliminating the problem. This can require significant amounts of time to properly condition the horse. The article also mentions injecting the joint with counter irritants. This is a NO-NO. No irritating substance should ever be put into a joint,
you can however, inject these substances into and around the medial patella ligament to try and cause local inflammation and scar tissue making the ligament wider and hopefully stop the UFP.
This is frequently helpful but doesn't take the place of a good exercise program.
If you notice this happening to your horse have a thorough lameness exam done to rule out other potential cause and when thats done ......start working your horse.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
10 Tips for Reducing Your Horse’s West Nile Risk
While the incidence of WNV is lower in our practice it is still a threat. The number of Encephalitis cases state wide is on track to surpass the previous record and we should all be aware of things we can do to decrease the risk. Certainly vaccination is key, however any immunity can be overwhelmed if enough virus is introduced and the horse is somehow debilitated.
Since first being recognized in the United States in 1999, West Nile virus (WNV) has posed
a serious threat to horses and humans alike. In the equine population, the virus is transmitted when a mosquito takes a blood meal from a bird infected with WNV, then feeds on a horse. While many horses exposed to WNV experience no signs of illness, the virus can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. In some cases, especially in older horses, WNV can be fatal.
As a horse owner, prevention is the key to reducing your horse’s risk of contracting WNV. Follow these guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to protect your horse against WNV:
1. Consider vaccinating your horse against the disease. In February 2003, a vaccine was licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics for use in healthy horses as an aid in the prevention of the disease. Talk with your veterinarian about the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your horse.
2. Eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites. Dispose of old receptacles, tires and containers and eliminate areas of standing water.
3. Thoroughly clean livestock watering troughs at least monthly.
4. Use larvicides to control mosquito populations when it is not possible to eliminate particular breeding sites. Such action should only be taken, however, in consultation with your local mosquito control authority.
5. Keep your horse indoors during the peak mosquito activity periods of dusk to dawn.
6. Screen stalls if possible or at least install fans over your horse to help deter mosquitoes.
7. Avoid turning on lights inside the stable during the evening or overnight.
8. Using insect repellants on your horse that are designed to repel mosquitoes can help reduce the chance of being bitten.
9. Remove any birds, including chickens, located in or close to a stable.
10. Don’t forget to protect yourself as well. When outdoors in the evening, wear clothing that covers your skin and apply plenty of mosquito repellent.
For more information about the virus, ask your equine veterinarian for the “West Nile Virus” brochure, produced by the AAEP in conjunction with Bayer Animal Health, an AAEP Educational Partner. Additional information about WNV can be found on the AAEP’s horse-health Web site, www.myHorseMatters.com.
Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
10 Tips for Caring for the Older Horse
Because of advances in nutrition, management and health care, horses are living longer, more useful lives. It’s not uncommon to find horses and ponies living well into their 20s and 30s. While genetics play a role in determining life span, you too, can have an impact.
You may think that turning your old-timer out to pasture is the kindest form of retirement. But horses are individuals. Some enjoy being idle; others prefer to be a part of the action. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the horse. Proper nutrition, care and exercise will help the animal thrive. Follow these guidelines to develop a total management plan for your older horse:
1. Observe your horse on a regular basis. Watch for changes in body condition, behavior and attitude. Address problems, even seemingly minor ones, right away.
2. Feed a high quality diet. Avoid dusty and moldy feeds.
3. Feed your older horse away from younger, more aggressive ones so it won’t have to compete for feed.
4. Feed at more frequent intervals so as not to upset the digestive system. Two-three times daily is best.
5. Provide plenty of fresh, clean, tepid water. Excessively cold water reduces consumption which can lead to colic and other problems.
6. Adjust and balance rations to maintain proper body conditions. A good rule of thumb is to be
able to feel the ribs but not see them.
7. Provide adequate, appropriate exercise to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and mobility.
8. Groom your horse frequently to promote circulation and skin health.
9. Be aware that older horses are prone to tumors. Look for any unusual lumps or growths from head to tail as well as beneath the tail (especially on gray horses).
10. Schedule routine checkups with your equine veterinarian. Call immediately if you suspect a problem.
A quick response to ailments, injuries or a decline in fitness can keep your older horse from having a serious or prolonged setback. That means less worry for you and a better quality of life for your old friend. For more information about caring for the older horse, ask your equine veterinarian for the “Older Horse” brochure, provided by the American Association of Equine Practitioners in partnership with Educational Partners Bayer Animal Health and Purina Mills, Inc. Visit the AAEP’s horse health web site, www.myHorseMatters.com, for additional information about caring for the older horse.
Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Disaster Action Guidelines For Horse Owners
You should be aware that actions you take before, during and after a natural or man made disaster could save your horses' life. In Florida and many States you can obtain a six month Event Permit from your Veterinarian. This is essentially a six month health certificate. You should get one of these at the start of Hurricaine season and keep it with your travel papers. You should have duplicate copies of all important papers and keep one in your truck/trailer at all times.
Plan Ahead Before a Disaster Occurs:
- Familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that can occur in your area and develop a plan of action to deal with each type. Some disasters to consider are hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, severe winter weather, fire, nuclear power plant accidents with release of radioactivity to the environment and hazardous material spills.
- Survey your property to find the best location to confine your animals in each type of disaster. Check for alternate water sources in case power is lost and pumps and automatic waterers are not working after the disaster.
- If you think you might need to evacuate your horses from your property determine several locations the animals could be taken, several routes to these locations and the entry requirements for each. Make arrangements in advance with the owner/operators to accept your horses and be sure to contact them before taking the horses there. Locations that could be used for evacuation are private stables, race tracks, fair grounds, equestrian centers, private farms and humane societies.
- Permanently identify each horse by tattoo, microchip, brand, tag, photograph (4 views-front, rear, left and right side) and/or drawing. Record its age, sex, breed, and color with your record of this identification. Keep this information with your important papers. If not identified at the time of the disaster in the above manner, paint or etch hooves, use neck bands or paint telephone number on side of animal.
- Be sure your horses' vaccination and medical records are written and up-to-date. As a minimum, each horse should have a current Coggins test documented. Check with your veterinarian as to what immunizations are advisable. Have documentation of any medicines with dosing instructions, special feeding instructions and the name and phone number of the veterinarian who dispensed the drug.
- Place a permanent tag with your name and phone number, and the horse's name on each animal's halter.
- Consider in your plan the prioritizing of which animals will be saved, if all cannot be saved. Let all farm personnel know of your plans in case you are not there when a disaster occurs.
- Prepare an emergency kit consisting of:
- plastic trash barrel with lid
- water bucket
- leg wraps
- fire resistant non nylon leads and halters
- first aid items
- portable radio and extra batteries
- sharp knife
- wire cutters
- lime, bleach
- plastic trash barrel with lid
- Have trailers and vans maintained, full of gas and ready to move at all times. Acclimate your horse to trailers and vans.
- Remember during emergencies you are taking minimum actions to assure the animal's survival. Have enough fresh water and hay on hand for 48-72 hours.
- During disasters you may wear different or unusual clothing, so condition your horses to strange appearances ahead of time.
- Consider your insurance needs and be sure you have all the coverage on your property and animals you may need and that claims will be paid for the type of disasters you may encounter.
- PRACTICE YOUR PLAN.
At the Time of the Disaster:
- STAY CALM! FOLLOW YOUR PLAN!
- Listen to the Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) station on your portable radio for information about how to locate horse care providers offering services during the disaster and any special instructions about actions you should take to protect your animals.
- If you leave your home, take your horses' immunizations and health records with you. Records kept at home may be damaged during the disaster.
- If you evacuate and take your horses with you, take all your immunization and health records, your emergency kit and sufficient hay and water for a minimum 48 hour period. Call ahead, if possible, to make sure that your emergency location is still available.
- If you must leave your horses unattended at home, leave them in the area most appropriate for the type of disaster you previously selected such as high ground in a flood. Leave enough water for the length of time you expect to be gone. Do not trust automatic watering systems in case power is lost.
After the Disaster:
- Be careful about leaving your horses unattended outside after the disaster. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and the horses could easily become confused and lost. It is best to place them in a secure area. Be sure fences are intact as some may be damaged by the disaster. Check fences and pastures for sharp objects that could injure horses. Be aware of downed power lines, racoons, skunks and other wild animals may have entered the area and could present a danger to your horses.
- If any horses are lost during the disaster contact veterinarians, humane societies, stables, race tracks, equestrian centers, surrounding farms and other facilities that might house animals. Listen to the EBS for infomation about groups that may be accepting lost animals.
- If you find somone else's horse after the disaster, isolate it from your animals until it is returned or can be examined by a veterinarian.
- Use extreme caution when approaching and handling unknown or frightened horses. Work in pairs when handling strange horses.
- Check with your veterinarian, the state veterinary medical association and the Department of Agriculture for information about any disease outbreaks that may have occurred as a result of the disaster.
- Be prepared to identify and document ownership when claiming lost horses.
- Consider establishing security measures on your farm to protect assets from looters, exploiters.
This information prepared by:
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Maryland Veterinary Medical Association
Maryland Emergency Management Agency
Maryland Horse Council
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service
Maryland Racing Commission
Maryland Jockey Club