Pigeon Fever … causes and prevention discussed.

Have you heard of Pigeon fever? The horses swell up in various sights with abcsesses, large ones! Is their any prevention? What is the best treatment?Have you heard of Pigeon fever? The horses swell up in various sights with abcsesses, large ones! Is their any prevention? What is the best treatment?

Story originally posted by: Dr. Michael Lowder, DVM, MSUniv. of GA School of Veterinary Medicine

Have you heard of Pigeon fever? The horses swell up in various sights with abcsesses, large ones! Is their any prevention? What is the best treatment?
Thanks!

Pigeon fever also called Dryland Distemper is caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. The bacteria lives in the soil and infects the horse via small cut in the skin. It can also be transmitted by various flies, including house flies and probably horn flies. The disease is seen worldwide but when it occurs in the USA it is mostly in the western states. The name ‘Pigeon fever’ comes about as some horses develop abscesses in their pectorial muscles; thus, giving the appearance of a large chest like a pigeon has. Three forms of the disease occur: internal, external and a ulcerative lymphangitis. Internal abscesses can be difficult to treat and often treatment is prolonged. External abscesses can be easier to drain, flush and treat. The ulcerative lymphangitis is the most common form of the disease rarely involves more than one leg at a time. Usually there are multiple small draining sores. Ultrasound can aid the practitioner in finding deep abscesses and draining them. The use of antibiotics are controversial and your local vet will decide what is best for your cases. Frequently horses will be given a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to control swelling and discomfort. Control involves around disposing of affected bedding (from the pus), cleaning all utensil that are used on the affected horse and insect vector control.

Thanks,
Dr. Lowder

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