Posted by GoatWorld on November 29, 2002 at 18:14:49:
This is interesting because it can be contracted by goats as well.
Pigeon fever afflicts more Colorado horses
By News Staff
November 26, 2002
A painful disease that causes horses to swell and sidelines them for two months or more has increased sixfold along the Front Range this year. Veterinarians at Colorado State University have confirmed 76 cases of pigeon fever, so named because it causes horses' pectoral muscles to puff up like a pigeon's breast.
Last year, the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory saw 12 cases, and in 2000 there were just seven, the school said Monday.
Symptoms include lameness, fever, lethargy and weight loss. Deep abscesses and sores typically occur along an afflicted horse's chest, midline and groin area and, sometimes, back. Abscesses also can develop internally.
The bacteria that cause the disease live in the soil and can enter the animal's body through wounds, broken skin or mucous membranes. Some researchers believe it may be transmitted by flies.
At the Urban Farm at Stapleton, a nonprofit agency where urban youth learn about agriculture, two of 45 horses have been infected.
"One of our horses is still struggling," said executive director Khadija Haynes, who described their suffering as "far beyond pathetic."
"Their chests and bellies just get hard, hard, hard," she said.
"It's so excruciating they can't walk. You just want to go out there and put your shoulder under their heads and let them lean on you."
The victims, Casey and Jett, are older mares, she said. They are quarantined and their lesions must be lanced and treated with ointment daily, Haynes said.
Pigeon fever also has been diagnosed in cattle, and a similar disease affects sheep and goats. It is not known to infect humans.
"What was once considered a disease of California horses is now a growing problem for the Colorado equine population," said Andrea Torres, veterinarian and microbiology resident who studied the disease in Colorado in 2000-2001.
An outbreak also is occurring in parts of Wyoming, prompting vets to urge horse owners to be alert to signs of the highly contagious illness. Torres said the increase could be due to more awareness among horse owners and veterinarians testing for the disease.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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