Seven Tears Into the Sea
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Terri Talks

Terri Farley
Wabi Sabi

Friday, April 02, 2010

Pigeon Fever Plagues Calico Horses

photo by Cat Kindsfather

Dear Readers,
The misery visited on the wild horses of the Calico mountains goes on.
Pigeon Fever was diagnosed by visitors to the feedlot style holding pens in Fallon, a place called Indian Lakes. Sounds nice, doesn't it?
Sadly, the photo I showed you a few days ago -- -shown again above -- could be a horse suffering from this condition.
Treatment for Pigeon Fever includes warm compresses, ISOLATION and hygenic conditions. Wild horses at Indian Lakes are getting none of this treatment.
"The incidence of Pigeon Fever at the Indian Lake Facility is at the same percentages that exist on the Calico Complex," BLM's contract vet, Dr. Sanford says, so "no treatments have been administered to date."
Even if this condition crops up on the range, too, horses running free do NOT stand around with two thousand other mustangs in crowded conditions where they can't avoid contact with each others' streaming pus.
Gross? Yes, and maybe that's why BLM is not only closing Indian Lakes to visitors on Easter Sunday, but director Don Glenn has refused to schedule a make-up day.
Secrecy leads to suspicion, and since day 1 of the Calico round up, it's been justified.
If BLM won't take even basic precautions -- like putting infected horses in hospital pens -- could it be because they want an excuse NOT to free them back to their home range? Or is it just too much trouble?


More info on Pigeon Fever from Colorado State veterinarians:

Clinical signs:
Early signs can include lameness, fever, lethargy, depression and weight loss.
Infections can range from mild, small, localized abscesses to a severe disease with multiple massive abscesses containing liters of liquid, tan-colored pus.
External, deep abscesses, swelling and multiple sores develop along the chest, midline and groin area, and, occasionally, on the back.

Incubation period: Horses may become infected but not develop abscesses for weeks.
Animals affected:The disease usually manifests in younger horses, but can occur in any age, sex, and breed.
A different biotype of the organism is responsible for a chronic contagious disease of sheet and goats, Caseous lymphadenitis, or CL. Either biotype can occur in cattle.

Disease forms:
Generally 3 types: external abscesses, internal abscesses or limb infection (ulcerative lymphangitis).
The ulcerative lymphangitis is the most common form worldwide and rarely involves more than one leg at a time. Usually, multiple small, draining sores develop above the fetlock.
The most common form of the disease in the United States is external abscessation, which often form deep in the muscles and can be very large. Usually they appear in the pectoral region, the ventral abdomen and the groin area. After spontaneous rupture, or lancing, the wound will exude liquid, light tan-colored, malodorous pus.
Internal abscesses can occur and are very difficult to treat

Hot packs or poultices should be applied to abscesses to encourage opening. Open abscesses should be drained and regularly flushed with saline.
Surgical or deep lancing may be required, depending on the depth of the abscess or the thickness of the capsule, and should be done by your veterinarian.
Ultrasound can aid in locating deep abscesses so that drainage can be accomplished.
External abscesses can be cleaned with a 0.1 percent povidone-iodine solution
Antiseptic soaked gauze may be packed into the open wound
A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as phenylbutazone can be used to control swelling and pain
Care required: Buckets or other containers should be used to collect pus from draining abscesses and this infectious material should be disposed of properly.
Consistent and careful disposal of infected bedding, hay, straw or other material used in the stall is vitally important.
Thoroughly clean and disinfect stalls, paddocks, all utensils and tack.
Pest control for insects is also very important.

Recovery time: Usually anywhere from two weeks to 77 days.

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Posted by Terri Farley @ 3:01 PM

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Comments: Terry, that is NOT Pidgeon Fever. It looks more like a bad scrape, or tear or cut that has festered.
Horses have an amazing power to heal themselves, regardless of the circumstances. Moving around and having fresh air to this wound is probably better than having this same horse in a dirty stall. The wound will heal, and leave a scar for sure, unless it gets so infected that it goes to gangrene.
I've seen much much worse get better.
Pidgeon fever is really awful though. It is air and fly borne, and requires a lot of sanitation that these horses aren't going to get. Antibiotics just make it worse. The virus lives in the dirt too, and so anytime it gets warm, the horses being held in these pens are going to suffer from it.
Horses can and do die from PF, but usually only if it has gone internal ( from antibiotics administered at he wrong times). Usually the horses get quite sick but do recover.
  One more thought for you- when you get home from visiting these pens, be sure to disinfect your outerwear and especially your boots with a mild bleach solution so you won't carry the infection any where else.
  HI Barbara,
I trust your judgment and hope you're right. Still have no confirmation or denial, but so many horses have been injured in the allies and the cage that this could be one of them.
Now I'm concerned about transference since the same cage is used to process all horses. With open wounds on some and seepage from the abcesses (sp) on others -- I hope they clean it. I've seen dried blood on it before.
Seems they're trying to process living things like cans on a conveyor belt and it just does not work.
Thanks for the tips for me, too.
  Terry I suspect the BLM gave these horses tainted hay. It is too cold for flies (been snowing) and brand new facility, what does that leave? Hay. Hey who gave them the hay?
  BLM knows there is an outbreak of pigeon fever and that it is extremely contagious. Yet they take no measures whatsoever to try and stop it spreading. Just as they leave the babies to be trampled, by allowing more horses to become ill the number of "viable/adoptable" horses is reduced. We know that there is no concern for the safety of the horses and they are doing the absolute minimum to protect them. Only what they absolutely have to so people will be fooled into believing their lies. Somehow, some way we have to stop this. If any "regular" citizen treated their horses like this they would be thrown in jail.

I wonder how many bodies we could actually get together to really force the issue????
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