Lyme disease in horses

Often both owners and the horses themselves have already gone through an odyssey of tests, treatments and therapies until the diagnosis of Lyme disease in the horse is confirmed. Not because the treating veterinarian or alternative practitioner would often have deliberately treated incorrectly here for weeks or months, but because the symptoms of a horse suffering from Lyme disease can be very different and often other diagnoses appear more accurate in advance. Many horse owners do not even notice when their horse has been bitten by a tick, because the tick has often already fallen off. In addition, the typical circular spot on the skin, which could give early first indications of an infection with the Borrelia bacteria, is not even discovered because of the dense fur.

The first symptoms in horses with Lyme disease are often misinterpreted

At the beginning of the infection, the first changes in the skin and coat or. various allergies indicate a liver problem, and a normal blood count would not necessarily provide the first indication of such an infection. Even the targeted Lyme disease antibody resp. Lyme disease titer test would bring a reliable result in the first weeks to months of the disease only to 40%. The positive result would again not be a reliable indicator of whether there is an acute illness or recurrent colic. Infection with Borrelia present in horses.

Since the typical circular red bite mark is usually not discovered and the unclear symptoms initially allow other suspected diagnoses, Lyme disease in horses is often not diagnosed until the disease has already become chronic. Since Lyme disease in horses usually occurs in waves in variously severe episodes and inactive periods between the active stages give the impression that the horse is healthy again – is repeatedly (in the belief to have done everything right the first time) wrongly treated. It is therefore important that horses are regularly examined for ticks and that tick bites are conscientiously disinfected and followed up for a few days. On the other hand, a detailed diagnosis of Lyme disease should also be considered if the following signs are present.

Horses with Lyme disease – symptoms

– various organ diseases or. -abnormalities (liver, kidney, heart) – sudden drop in performance, lethargy, sudden nervousness or. Aggressiveness – Skin changes (eczema, skin fungus, dull or falling out coat) – Weight loss, loss of appetite – Susceptibility to infections, recurring fever or cough, etc. – recurrent colic or colic-like symptoms – headshaking – unspecific and often changing lameness – muscle tension up to ataxia – frequent hoof abscesses, leather dermatitis up to laminitis

Even one of these symptoms may be an indication of Lyme disease infection. Since horses with Equine Cushing Syndrome (ECS) can sometimes show similar symptoms, if necessary. also be tested for ECS. Similar parallels can also be seen with the Borna virus in its initial stage. This highly contagious viral infection mostly affects sheep, which in turn can also transmit this pathogen to horses. Today, horses are often referred to as having a mixed infection, since the Borna disease virus often occurs in combination with Lyme disease. These observations are scientifically controversial, but for the sake of order mentioned here. As a rule, one speaks of Lyme disease in horses, named after the American city where the first cases of this pathogenic disease occurred in 1975.

Diagnosis of Borrelia infection in horses

Even today there are veterinarians who tend to deny an infection of the horse by Borrelia or consider it very rare. One reason for this may be the difficult diagnosis. The interpretation of the titers during an antibody test on horse blood can be. Often there is a lack of understanding of the variety of symptoms, the further typing and the pathology of the pathogen. During a serological screening test, the blood serum previously collected from the horse is analyzed for antibodies in the laboratory. By a so-called Western Blot (the Western Blot is a molecular biological procedure for the detection of proteins) more detailed differentiated. Often after 3 to 4 weeks a further test is carried out, in order to detect if necessary. to be able to detect an acute infection. This finding would have an influence on the immediate therapeutic measures in the horse. In the past, Lyme disease could only be reliably detected during an acute episode, but today some laboratories also provide reliable test results outside of these episodes. In alternative medicine Borrelia is tested via bioresonance analysis.

The right therapy for horses with Lyme disease

At present, the only conventional treatment method seems to be a therapy with special antibiotics. The problem with this therapy remains, however, that apart from the known side effects (intestinal flora), it can only kill Borrelia bacteria during their division phase. Thus, inactive pathogens survive this antibiosis and they themselves and their "descendants" often become resistant to further treatments. In any case, this form of treatment does not always promise success. If Lyme disease is detected early in the horse, antibiotic therapy still has a good chance of success.

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