The horses gathered by the Bureau of Land Management from the Calico Complex in Nevada are currently held at the privately contracted facility named the Broken Arrow in Fallon Nevada. Observers have been allowed to monitor the horses through a two-hour window each Sunday. No observers will be allowed in this weekend due to the holiday.
Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow this past Sunday (photo Craig Downer)
The presence of Pigeon Fever among the population was observed nearly two weeks ago.
Processing and sorting of horses has continued “business as usual,” with no change in protocol despite the highly contagious disease.
John Neill, currently the manager at the Broken Arrow for the BLM said, “Yes, there is pigeon fever but only a handful of cases.”
When asked if the cases were confined to the horses gathered from a specific area and isolated in the pens sorted by area gathered he replied, “No, we’ve been moving horses around.”
Many of you have sent me questions that seem to confuse Pigeon Fever with strangles. This is not a strangles outbreak.
*** I also need to add that Pigeon Fever does not come from pigeons. It is not a disease associated with “cities.” (Sometimes I don’t know where this stuff comes from.) It is called Pigeon Fever because the most common form causes abscesses that develop on the chest that give a resemblance to that of a pigeon.
What is Pigeon Fever?
From a COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY VETERINARIANS REPORT
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 sheep 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
Note: There is a low incidence in foals.It has also been diagnosed in cattle, and a similar disease affects sheep and goats. The disease is not transmissible to humans, although humans can carry the infectious agent on shoes, clothing, hands or barn tools and transfer it to another animal. Although the disease is considered seasonal, with most cases occurring in early fall, a number of cases have been confirmed during winter months and other times of the year as well..
Treatment: 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
Antibiotics are controversial. Their use in these cases has sometimes been associated with chronic abscessation and, if inadequately used, may contribute to abscesses, according to one study.
The most commonly used antibiotic for the treatment of this condition is procaine penicillin G, administered intramuscularly, or trimethoprim-sulfa.
In the case of internal abscesses, prolonged penicillin therapy is necessary
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.
The BLM is moving forward with preparation toward an adoption event of Calico horses currently scheduled for May 15th and 16th at the Palomino Valley Center in Nevada.
Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow (photo Craig Downer)