Just want to take a minute to give you a quick update on the horses currently at the Broken Arrow facility.
Swelling (Cat Kindsfather)
I spoke with Elyse Gardner this morning. We spoke prior to her leaving yesterday as I had some questions about the gelding procedure. I asked her to photograph the area used for the procedure.
The answers given to the questions were very much the expected responses. Into the chute, inject with a paralytic, open the chute, the horse goes down and procedure completed. Henderson tool and cauterization is completed as procedure is performed.
Elyse reported seeing one young horse that had significant swelling. A few with minor visible swelling.
There currently are no plans to geld any of the older stallions.
Pigeon Fever Update:
It has taken me a bit to post this latest report from Sanford. Something like this was expected. It almost seems to be so much a part of the dance that it had to come.
Pigeon Fever WAS CONFIRMED by the facility manager John Neill. He said there were a handful of cases. The adoption event was postponed until July, adding as many as 60 days to the recovery time before adoption. That in itself slows down the race to the gate enough that any situation could be monitored and responded to.
The assertion in Sanfords report appears to blame an inexperienced public for confusing Pigeon Fever with Staphylococcus aureus.
I called John Neill, manager of the facility. Confirmation came from John. If anyone wants to “google” Staphylococcus aureus you will see it is transmitted in basically the same manner as Pigeon Fever. (Flies are one way the virus is transmitted however contact with the soil, hands, equipment can spread pigeon fever).
Panic that animals would die coast-to-coast was not an issue. However standard practices in equine management would involve isolating the population effected by either of these ailments. Call any boarding barn, breeder that cares about his horses, your own equine vet.
But at least this has been posted here to keep the trail of breadcrumbs in tact.
Observations Related to Pigeon Fever and Chest Hematomas
in the Calico Complex Horses located at the Indian Lakes Road Facility
In January 2010, I observed clinical signs that suggested horses from the Calico Complex were recovering from pigeon fever (infection with Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis). These infections probably occurred late in 2009.
A few (5-10) abscesses were still healing in 2010 during and after the Calico gather. Overall, about 2% of the horses appeared to be affected. No further abscesses have been noted. The diagnosis was based on these clinical impressions and since almost all the abscesses were healed no laboratory confirmation of the causative bacteria has been possible.
No complications are expected although recurrence is possible depending on soil and weather conditions in the area. Pigeon fever has been reported on several occasions among domestic and wild horses in Fallon and throughout Nevada and California.
During the last month, an observation of a condition unrelated to pigeon fever has been made in about 10 yearling colts that have chest hematomas. For visitors to the facility, these swellings could be confused with pigeon fever.
The hematomas likely resulted from bruises caused by contact with the feed bunk. Modifications to the feed bunks are being made in an attempt to prevent this from occurring in the future.
The hematomas have been drained and cultured as a precaution. The only bacterial growth obtained from these cultures to date has been Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria is part of the normal skin flora and most likely an insignificant contaminant of the culture. This is not the organism that causes pigeon fever and is not a contagious condition.
No complications from the hematomas are expected, and all treated hematomas are healing.
Richard Sanford DVM
Photo Craig Downer
Here is the previous report that was posted on the BLM site about Pigeon Fever. If this is a “dance” then I guess this could be called the “dip” before the “spin.”
Pigeon Fever at Indian Lakes Road Facility in Fallon, NV
Veterinarian report prepared by: Richard Sanford, DVM. NV# 565
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis: bacteria which is found in the soil, is most likely transmitted by biting flies and has a very long incubation period (weeks – months). The disease has nothing to do with pigeons. The name comes from the large chest abscesses that some horses can get, which look like the large breast of a pigeon. (Also known as “Dryland Distemper” or “Pigeon Breast”)
Of the Calico Complex horses gathered from December 29, 2009 – February 4, 2010, approximately 2 percent of the 1,922 horses received at the facility showed clinical signs of healed chest abscesses from recent Pigeon Fever infection and .25 percent to .50 percent showed more recent or currently were infected with Pigeon Fever.
As of March 31, 2010, at the Indian Lakes Road facility, Pigeon Fever is still noted at the .25 percent to .50 percent rate, mostly found in the juvenile horses. The incidence of Pigeon Fever at the Indian Lakes Facility is at the same percentages that exist on the Calico Complex. The chest swellings range from golf ball size to grapefruit size. Fly season occurs at the end of summer. Therefore, it is expected that incidents of Pigeon Fever will decrease over time. Disease may or may not reoccur during the 2010 fly season based on environmental factors, such as temperatures, precipitation levels, soil conditions, fly conditions, etc. It is noted that California had severe Pigeon Fever conditions during the 2009 fly season. It is speculated those conditions apply to Nevada as well.
Horses housed at the Indian Lakes Road facility that have active Pigeon Fever are being monitored. No treatments have been administered to date. Abscesses have all resolved without treatment. No deaths or complications have been associated with infection. Based on 25 years of past experience with wild horses and burros, Pigeon Fever can exist in many of our wild herds depending on current year environmental conditions.