Potomac Horse Fever poses a serious threat to local horses. Make sure you’re horses are vaccinated!
Total Equine Veterinary Associates has treated three suspected cases of Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) this season. The first case was a vaccinated horse in Lucketts that had a very low fever and one day of diarrhea. After five (5) days of intravenous antibiotics and significant owner effort doing nursing care, the horse survived. The second case was a horse that was transported to the Great Falls area from Georgia a month ago. The client was unaware of this disease and its vaccine. The horse presented with a high fever, diarrhea, and laminitis. After being treated in intensive care at a local hospital, the horse died. The third and most recent case was a vaccinated horse that was treated immediately after the first bout of diarrhea. The horse is recovering well, but is still being monitored closely. Laminitis can develop even after the clinical signs of diarrhea and fever have resolved.
This disease is real. It is here, in Northern Virginia and the surrounding areas. While the vaccine is not 100% protective, time and research have proven the vaccine can lessen the severity of the disease and that vaccinated horses (if infected with PHF) maintain a better prognosis and are more likely to survive. Death from PHF is mostly preventable.
Preventive Measures for Traveling Horses
If you have friends coming to the area, advise them to get the vaccine before they arrive or promptly after their arrival. If you are a barn manager, and you have a client arriving from out of the area, please ask them to get the vaccine or advise them to consult their veterinarian before departing.
Preventive Measures for Your Vaccinated Horse
If you have a routinely vaccinated horse, turn off barn lights at night to decrease insect attraction, clean water buckets and troughs thoroughly and frequently. Contact a vet if your horse skips a meal, acts dull and lethargic, has loose or watery stool, or has a temperature higher than 101.5.
TEVA sees 6 to 12 cases of PHF each season (mid-summer to mid-fall). Unvaccinated horses are at the greatest risk of death while most vaccinated horses that become infected with PHF are comfortably managed with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, laminitis preventative measures, and oral endotoxin absorbers.
TEVA recommends vaccinating for Potomac Horse Fever twice a year for horses in the vicinity of the Potomac River and Goose Creek tributaries, as these seem to be at the greatest risk.
Don’t hesitate to contact Total Equine Vets (Drs. Jay Joyce and Sallie Hyman) for further information or you are unsure of your horse’s current status or condition.
Your Horse’s Life is Our Life’s Work
THIS JUST IN FROM EDCC:
Potomac Horse Fever has been confirmed in two horses in Frederick County, Marlyand, one of which has died from the disease. Both horses had been vaccinated. The second horse is being treated by a private veterinarian and is expected to recover. For more information go to: http://news.maryland.gov/mda/ press-release/2016/07/29/ potomac-horse-fever-detected- in-Maryland