November 4, 2011
So, the two smaller sites healed up ok. And the one on his face did as well. The big one, that had been cut on three times, was slow to heal. The swelling didn’t seem to be receeding, but I was hoping desparately that it was because they’d had to go so deep that it was just taking longer.
Meanwhile, Rico had been put back to work, and we had done a schooling show a few weeks ago. I still didn’t like the look of his jaw, but I figured I would take him in as soon as the schooling show was over. (Let us take a moment to enjoy the schooling show:)
Now, reality comes crashing in. A few days after the show, we saunter ourselves over to the vet clinic. Here’s what I was dealing with:
Yeah. Denial Much? Whats really bad is the vet took one look at it and said, “Well, I guess we have more work to do.” And then proceeded to point out to me the habronema larvae that was visible on the surface of the wound. I felt like an idiot. And a Bad Bad Mom. I should have taken him in weeks ago. So the vet went to work, cutting and cutting and cutting. He removed a small lemon sized hunk of proud flesh (that’s what was causing the “swelling” above) and cut it open to show me about half a dozen little larvae. I wanted to cry. In fact, I did cry. That whole week.
And after I took him back to the barn. (Poor horse, every time I take him down the street to the clinic, he gets drugged up, and looses part of his face.) I had to leave for Denver.
Here’s day 5 after the newest cutting:
So far it seems to be healing well, but it oozes all day and I have to change the dressing on it (maxi pads, believe it or not, under a nylon slinky hood) twice a day and clean it and treat it with a special solution concocted by the vets. I am HOPING that this is it. ITs gotten cooler here, so everything (eggs) will go dormant and we’ll see if anything errupts next spring. Needless to say, this has put a kibitz on the show season.
And I did cry. ALOT. Because I should have taken him in sooner.
sigh. I f#$%ing hate this little worm.
August 10, 2011
WARNING – GRAPHIC PHOTOS AHEAD!
I have been slack posting here. I’ve covered some stuff over on my personal blog and then protected the posts and yadda yadda. If you’re really curious, you can friend me on facebook and see photos there.
Here’s what has been going down lately…
All spring, Rico has been playing “I’m a bigger gelding than YOU” with the horse next door – there’s nothing like coming in the morning of a show and finding your horse has striped an inch of skin directly off his face in the last 12 hours. So, we finally modified the runs so that he couldn’t quite reach the other horse back in late April and that seemed to take care of things.
We were cruising along, having a good time, and then the allergies hit in June – late this year, but that’s how the weather has been. Pussey eyes, swollen with gunk. Just like the first summer we moved here. Oh, and they tripled the price of antibiotic eye ointment. Yay.
Later in june, he DID manage to scrape the bottom of his jaw bone – I saw it fresh the morning it happened. Top layer of skin, no big deal, spray it with silver spray and move on. It scabbed up and all seemed well.
Till about three weeks ago. Trainer took him out of the stall to ride him while I was out of town (typical – every damn thing seems to start while I’m out of town), and immediately thought OMG – Strangles! she calls the vet, he comes and says, “Nope. Not Strangles. Habronema.”
Ya’ll its taken two weeks for me to remember how to say that f#$%ing word. It should be called WORM EGG NIGHT MARE.
Habronema is a type of gastric worm. An infected animal has the adult worms living in their stomach – and FYI there are only a few types of wormer that kills the mofos, so make sure you’re doing your rotational worming even if you’re on the daily strongid program because strongid does NOT kill them. The horse passes the worm eggs into their poop and flies & maggots eat the eggs, becoming an intermediate host for the worm eggs. The flies deposit the eggs and or worm larva when they land near the mouth, which causes the horse to ingest them and restart the cycle. If the flies land near open sores or mucous membranes, the eggs/larva get deposited in the open wound/flesh there as well.
Seeing that flies LOVE blood, that’s what happened to Rico’s jaw injury. Some horses then have a MAJOR immune system reaction / sensitivity/ allergic response to the larvae/eggs. I don’t know if it was because he was already hopped up from the allergies previously, or that there were enough worm eggs/larva to get the immune system to overreact, but it happened to him. He swelled up – and then there is the puss… with the yellow nodules about the size of the end of a piece of rice. This reaction is often called “summer sores” because the larvae go dormant in the fall and winter and then the sores fester back up when it warms up again.
ANYWAY, the vets here say they get about 2 cases a week in the summer and they’ve got a pretty regular treatment for it – basically they cut a big hunk out of the bottom of the flesh around his jaw bone where the original scrape was. And it was damn hard to keep covered, which is kind of important – you don’t want to get rid of worm eggs just to have the flies redeposit them.
And then I go to Oregon, and the call comes in – he’s got another spot – this time on the FRONT of his face, where there had been no open sore…. recently. Back in the spring he’d dinged it but it had healed MONTHS ago. So off to the Dr. we go, it was about time for the weekly check up of the first site anyway, and sure enough – they have to cut out the infestation on the front, AND more out from under his jaw… because when its inflamed and swollen, its often hard to tell if you got all the of the larvae and nodules out. So that is surgery #2. But this time, the vet says another client also has the same thing going on in the jaw area and they were going to use a slinky to keep it covered. That, my friends is freaking BRILLIANT, so I dug mine out of the show stuff and then ordered three more (in white since its so hot here). At this point, I was desperate for hope.
With good reason. Because several days ago – less than a week after surgery #2, the barn called – it looked like he was festering another spot on the other side of his face. And so I took him in AGAIN today, and he had two more holes cut out of his skin, and more stuff taken out of his first two infection spots. Near as we can figure, the June infestation put his immune system into over drive and now all the other spots that had healed fine earlier this spring are sporting pustules of puss and decaying flesh embedded with worm larvae.
Good F!^&#$ing times, my friends. To give you an idea, check out the photos I took, before and after surgery round #3. The first is the first site, before we took more from it today…
You can, if you look hard, see the two new sites on the other side of the jaw. The vet checked this site again today, and took more out of it near his cheek. So that makes 3 times he’s had to remove larvae/nodules.
Two days ago, he had a spot that was swollen and hot and when squeezed, a little puss ooozed out with the infamous yellow nodules. That’s how we knew we had a new site. (yes, I said lots of bad bad words)
This is what it looked like two days later – the top sore is BRAND new, and the bottom sore is what barely was there on Sunday. Both erupted in less than 48 hours, and smelled horrible.
Another view, from the bottom looking up… the poor vet seemed amused by my photographic tendencies…. He’s just as tired of this as I am – we were one of FOUR horses he had on schedule today to see with the habronema dermal infections.
Oh and lets not forget the SECOND site from last week – on the front of his face, on his cute little face, his sweet sweet face… this is post *second* surgical treatment today, and you can see the gauze packing barely peaking out from the bottom of his jaw where they treated the two new sites.
And finally, this is what the two new sites looked like, post infested flesh removal. The vet is injecting them with steroids to help get the inflammation and hyperimmunity/allergy response down so they have a chance to heal.
Since so far, we’ve not had a “clean” removal on the other two sites yet, I have low expectations and zero hopes that we won’t be cutting back into these two new ones. Clean daily, treat with bedadine and dmso and some magic mixture that the senior vet from the clinic has wizarded up… that’s about all we can do. And keep the mother f^%*ing flies out. And worm EVERY two weeks with ivermectin.
So that’s how my summer has been going. We’re going to buy the vet a new boat. Or put his kid through college.
I’m just at a loss. And the bad news? He’s now sensitized to these buggers and will be forever – not unlike an allergy. So I will have to be super diligent from now till eternity. OH, and this could heal up OK and then re-emerge next spring if there’s any eggs or larvae left. Hence the name “summer sores.”
Yeah, lots of profanity coming out of my mouth. In a beat down, discouraged manner.
My poor sweet pony.