Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lyme in Horses - Looking Back at Symptoms

Now that Pie has tested positive for chronic Lyme - an infection lasting longer than 5 months, I was looking back at my records to see if anything indicated when the acute infection might have occurred.  It's clear that we're in a hotspot area for Lyme in extreme northeastern Illinois - here's the CDC map showing human cases of Lyme.  Pie came to me from north of Minneapolis (also a Lyme area) in the winter of 2010-2011.  From the moment I got him, he impressed me as a very quiet, calm and sensible horse - he wasn't spooky or nervous at all.  The spring of 2011 was a terrible season for ticks - of course the very small ticks that carry Lyme often aren't visible, but there sure were a lot of the regular type of ticks.  In the April/May 2011 time frame, a couple of very odd things happened.  Pie became extremely muscle sore - in fact he cramped up on a trail ride to the extent that he was in severe pain, but it didn't act or look like classic tying up.  His muscles stayed pretty tight and sore, and he subsequently developed a case of laminitis.  He also became extremely grouchy and reactive to touch - he would bite when touched or groomed - this was very atypical for him.  By June, he seemed to be feeling a bit better, but continued to be a bit stiff and was still reactive and spooky - there were a number of big spooks leading up to my fall off him in mid-June.  He subsequently appears to have developed his first case of EPM in the fall Since then, he's remained very tight in his muscles, although able to work, and remains somewhat grumpy, although he's had no further episodes of footsoreness or someness to touch.  He remains basically calm, but very visually reactive.

His titer levels on the new Cornell multiplex test - he tested negative on the A and C antigens and positive on the F antigen, and his symptoms, are consistent with an acute infection with Lyme in the late spring of 2011, with a chronic infection persisting until now.  We're waiting to hear back from Cornell on his treatment plan, but I have hopes that the grumpiness, muscle tightness and visual spookiness may in fact be continuing symptoms of his chronic Lyme that can be mitigated by treatment.

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