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Lymphangitis in horses

Lymphangitis in Horses

Horse lymphangitis is also called weed, big leg disease, and fat leg disease.

All types of horses are affected by this condition. Although all the legs are susceptible to the disease, the hind legs are the ones that most often get affected. An invasion by the bacteria Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis is the most likely cause of horse lymphangitis. Most often, horse lymphangitis starts off with a minor wound that goes unnoticed.

The bacteria uses this opportunity to enter the wound and then it slowly spreads and makes its way to the lymph ducts. Horse lymphangitis treatment should always be started promptly, as delays will simply prolong and lengthen the treatment.

The symptoms of horse lymphangitis are revealed in varying degrees. In the early stages of horse lymphangitis the swelling is what is called pitting edema. This means that when you press the swelling a depression continues to remain.

The swelling in the affected area can become quite extreme. Sometimes it reaches even the hock and goes further which makes it painful, hot and very sensitive. The vessels and nymph glands in particular get swollen and there oozes out serous fluid from the skin. Sometimes the abdominal vein and udder get affected. The horses will also get feverish with high temperature and will become deprived of the use of its limb. It is important that you consult a veterinarian immediately if you suspect any of the horse lymphangitis symptoms.
You will be advised by a veterinary practitioner as to the treatment needed for horse lymphangitis cases. Antibiotics are available in a wide array which includes doxycycline and penicillin. The veterinarian will generally perform tests like sensitivity testing and microbial culture which will determine the most effective antibiotic to be used. Anti-inflammatories are usually given which will bring down the pain and swelling. The two most commonly used anti-inflammatories are phenylbutazone and Flunixin. To maintain movement, physiotherapy is also very essential. A massage will also help in reducing the edema and increasing the lymphatic drainage. Using a bandage and cold hosing can also be helpful during the early stages of horse lymphangitis. You should make sure that the bandage is not very tight as this may curtail circulation in the limb. In severe cases, cortercosteroids are occasionally used and sometimes surgery will be needed to drain the limb.

The horse lymphangitis treatment usually reduces the lameness and pain fairly quickly but the swelling may continue to remain for a few weeks. Once a horse gets lymphangitis it becomes vulnerable to resurgence. If horse lymphangitis treatments don’t include exercise, it may suffer permanently from swollen limbs. In some of the severe cases the size of the limb may never return to normal. When horse lymphangitis treatments fail and the lameness cannot be controlled, euthanasia may be considered to be the best option.

  Submitted on August 24, 2010