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Summary

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction is a slowly progressive disorder that afflicts most breeds of horses. Because it shares features with human Cushing disease, it has been referred to as equine Cushing disease. A variety of tests of pituitary-adrenocortical function were performed on horses with evidence of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, and results were compared with those in healthy control horses. Diurnal variations in plasma cortisol concentration were not statistically different between control horses and those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. An ACTH stimulation (1 U of natural ACTH gel/kg of body weight, IM) test or a combined dexamethasone suppression test (10 mg, IM) and ACTH stimulation (100 mg of synthetic ACTH, IV) test also failed to distinguish horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction from control horses. A significant (P < 0.001) dose-related suppression of cortisol concentration in response to increasing doses (5, 10, 20, and 40 μg/kg) of dexamethasone was observed in control horses but not in those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. On the basis of plasma cortisol concentration, the dexamethasone suppression test, using 40 μg/kg, whether initiated at 5 PM with sample collection at 15 (8 AM) and 19 (12 PM) hours after dexamethasone administration, or initiated at 12 AM with sample collection at 8 (8 AM), 12 (12 PM), 16 (4 PM), 20 (8 PM), and 24 (12 AM) hours after dexamethasone administration, reliably distinguished between control horses and those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. Several horses did not have clinical evidence of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, but did have abnormal dexamethasone suppression test results. In these horses, adenomatous hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the pars intermedia of the pituitary gland was confirmed at necropsy.

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To characterize healing of corneal epithelial defects in horses and to evaluate the ability of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to modulate rate of corneal epithelial healing in horses.

Sample Population—20 eyes in 12 adult horses.

Procedure—Corneal epithelial wounds were created by mechanically debriding the limbus. Corneal healing was recorded for 3 treatment groups: 50 µg of EGF/ml (n = 5 eyes), 5 µg of EGF/ml (7), and PBS solution (8). Corneal healing was recorded once daily after instillation of fluorescein stain by use of photography and calculating the area of the wound, using imaging software.

Results—After corneal debridement, re-epithelialization was rapid and progressed in a linear fashion for the first 5 to 7 days after surgery in all groups. After that period, rates of healing decreased. A profound increase in the degree of inflammation, neovascularization, melanosis, and scarring was observed in eyes treated with the high dose of EGF (50 µg/ml), but there was not a statistical difference in mean healing time or in mean decrease in radius during the linear phase between the control and either EGF treatment groups. However, for all 8 horses in which both eyes were debrided, the first eye healed significantly faster than the second eye, regardless of treatment.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Beneficial effects of topical administration of a high dose of EGF for acceleration of healing of corneal defects in eyes of horses are outweighed by the intensity of the associated inflammatory response. (Am J Vet Res 2000; 61:1150–1155)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective—To develop and use a sensitive molecular assay for detecting the phospholipase D (PLD) exotoxin gene of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis in an attempt to identify insect vectors that may be important in transmission of clinical disease in horses.

Sample Population—2,621 flies of various species.

Procedure—A real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based fluorogenic 5' nuclease (TaqMan) system (ie, TaqMan PCR assay) was developed for the detection of the PLD gene in insects. Flies were collected monthly (May to November 2002) from 5 farms in northern California where C pseudotuberculosis infection in horses is endemic. Three of the 5 farms (which housed a total of 358 horses) had diseased horses during the study period. A total of 2,621 flies of various species were tested for the PLD gene of C pseudotuberculosis.

Results—Evidence of bacterial DNA for the PLD gene was detected in skin biopsy specimens from clinically affected horses and from 3 fly species collected from farms where affected horses were housed. Farms with a high incidence of diseased horses had a high proportion of insects carrying the organism. High percentages of flies with positive results for the PLD gene were observed in October, when most clinically affected horses were observed.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that C pseudotuberculosis may be vectored to horses by flies. Three potential vectors were identified, including Haematobia irritans, Stomoxys calcitrans, and Musca domestica. The organism can be identified in up to 20% of house flies (Musca domestica) in the vicinity of diseased horses. (Am J Vet Res 2004;65:829–834)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective—To test the hypothesis that application of a rope restraint device would result in behavioral, electroencephalographic, and humoral changes consistent with sleep and analgesia in neonatal foals.

Animals—8 healthy neonatal foals.

Procedures—Following acclimatization to experimental conditions, each foal underwent a series of assessments before and during or at the end of a period of restraint via application of a restraint device (soft linen rope). Assessments included measurements of heart and respiratory rates, rectal temperature, and circulating β-endorphin and steroid hormone concentrations and evaluations of mentation and body position (behavior), electroencephalographic patterns, and pain tolerance.

Results—All foals were lively with apparently normal behavior prior to restraint. During application of the restraint device, foals assumed lateral recumbency with relaxed, somnolent behavior. Heart and respiratory rates and rectal temperature uniformly decreased as a result of the procedure. Electroencephalographic recordings (completed for 3 foals only) revealed patterns consistent with slow wave sleep. Plasma ACTH, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and androstenedione concentrations significantly increased during restraint, compared with prerestraint values. The foals' tolerance to noxious stimuli significantly increased during restraint; however, this was independent of the concentration of circulating β-endorphin.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In neonatal foals, the evaluated form of restraint resulted in a decrease in heart and respiratory rates and rectal temperature. Squeeze-induced somnolence may resemble the effects of compression of the fetus in the birth canal and lead to inhibition of voluntary activity. Use of this technique to safely restrain neonatal foals during minor procedures warrants further evaluation.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Wildfires are a serious and expanding threat in western North America, and wildfire encroachment on human populations leads to widespread evacuation and emergency housing operations for residents and their companion animals and livestock. Veterinarians are frequently part of wildfire response efforts and are called upon to assist in rescue, evacuation, and emergency housing operations as well as to provide medical care for evacuated animals. Although veterinarians are likely familiar with the principles of transporting and housing terrestrial animals, emergency response for aquatic companion animals presents unique logistic challenges. Veterinarians familiar with aquatic animal evacuation, housing, and care prior to a wildfire response can extend the scope of disaster recovery. This report offers general guidance for rescuing, evacuating, housing, and caring for aquatic animals in the wake of a wildfire.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To describe epidemiological, clinical, and pathological features of neuroaxonal dystrophy in Quarter Horses (QHs) on a single farm.

Design—Prospective case series.

Animals—148 horses.

Procedures—Neurologic, pathological, and toxicological evaluations were completed in selected neurologically affected horses over a 2-year period. Descriptive statistical analysis was performed.

Results—87 QHs and 1 QH-crossbred horse were affected. Most (50/88 [56.8%]) affected horses were 1 to 2 years old (median age, 2 years [range, 2 months to 34 years]). Neurologic deficits included obtundation (53/88 [60%] horses), decreased to absent menace response (33/88 [37.5%]), proprioceptive positioning deficits, wide-based stance, ataxia, and dysmetria (88/88 [100%]). Most (78/88 [88.6%]) horses had mild ataxia, but some (10/88 [11.4%]) had moderate to severe ataxia. Low serum concentrations of vitamin E (≤ 2 mg/L) were detected in 3 index case horses and 16 of 17 randomly selected horses (13/14 affected and 3/3 unaffected) during study year 1. Dietary vitamin E supplementation did not improve neurologic deficits in affected horses; vitamin E administration in pregnant mares appeared to decrease but not prevent disease development among offspring born the following year. Lesions detected at necropsy included bilaterally symmetric neuroaxonal degeneration with axonal spheroids in the nucleus gracilis, nucleus cuneatus medialis, nucleus cuneatus lateralis, and nucleus thoracicus (5/5 horses).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Neuroaxonal dystrophy should be considered in evaluation of young horses with ataxia and proprioceptive positioning deficits. Vitamin E deficiency may contribute to disease severity.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association