Saturday, November 29, 2014

Flash Goes to UC Davis

This morning, Flash's temperature was back up to 104.2.  We tried calling our regular horse vet, who teaches during the week and works on Saturdays, but all the vets in his practice were off for the holiday weekend.  Brett called a mobile vet that was recommended as "open" by the on-call service but they said that they couldn't process any lab tests until Monday and would charge an arm and a leg to come out on a "holiday."  I decided to call UC Davis.  We were concerned about the possibility of tick fever which had been mentioned to us at dinner by one of our friends last night.

 The very nice vet at Davis said that Flash's fever was very high (it spiked to 105.6 on Thanksgiving) and we should bring him in.  UC Davis has one of the top large animal hospitals in the country and, lucky us, it is just over an hour away.

Brett got the trailer hooked up while I threw the other horses enough hay to tide them over for lunch; not knowing how long we would be gone.

Oh, my.  That UC Davis Large Animal Clinic is an impressive place.


Two vets and a graduate student worked on Flash.  First the vets did a thorough physical and drew blood for lab work.  Flash stood quietly with Brett, while they poked and prodded, shaved him for an ultrasound of his internal organs, and conducted a rectal exam (plastic sleeve on the vets arm - in through the rectum up to the vet's armpit - ewww).  Meanwhile, the initial blood work came back: a low platelet and white blood cell count, anemia.  Suspecting a tick related disease, the vets asked the pathologist to do a smear and look for anaplasma phagocytophilum (yeah, a mouthful).  Anaplasma occurs in the Sierra foothills of Northern California.  Who knew?  Not us native Southern Californians.

While we waited for those results, they did the ultrasound.  The vets kept exclaiming over how clear Flash's organs were showing up on the ultrasound.  Apparently, many horses have images that show up grainy and hard to read on the screen.  Not Flash; crystal clear and perfectly healthy.

Finally, the follow up lab results came back... positive.  Anaplasma is a type of tick borne infection but, unlike Lyme's Disease, horses can make a full recovery with no long term effects.  We caught Flash very early in the process so he should be back to 100% after treatment.  After the first three days, the bacteria don't show up clearly on lab work so we were fortunate to get Flash tested so quickly.  The vets took a couple extra vials of blood to put in their "bank" for teaching purposes.  Blood that clearly shows the organism is hard to come by.  Wasn't Flash the stellar patient?

Prognosis is excellent.  Flash will remain at the hospital on IV antibiotics until his vitals are stable (three to six days).  At that point he will be transitioned to oral meds and can come home.  We settled him into a stall in the "B" barn where he looked comfortable (and tired).

Brett and I got home just before dark; in time to feed dinner to the rest of the critters and do a quick mucking job of the pasture.

15 comments:

  1. so glad you caught it early and got him excellent treatment on a holiday weekend!

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  2. Good to hear he's going to be fine. Glad you caught it early. It's always worth the trip to a good clinic. Flash is so sweet and such a good patient. Good luck.

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  3. Prayers along with all fingers, paws and hooves crossed for a full recovery. So very glad you caught it quickly.

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  4. I spoke with a vet a few weeks ago who told me they have seen over 400 cases of anaplasmosis here this year as well as a mystery tick borne disease that causes very high fever, but doesn't show up on any tests. My riding buddy's horse is being treated for lyme right now. The ticks are just terrible. I'm glad you caught this and Flash is going to be OK.

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  5. Goodness! Years ago I'd never even heard of ticks and now they're becoming a real problem. Is there anything you can do to prevent them, like dogs' flea and tick treatments?
    Your animals have wonderful owners! :)

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  6. So glad you took him in and were able to figure out was wrong and start treatment. We're beset with Lyme out here, although I've heard of a couple of cases of anaplasmosis - we're overrun with ticks.

    Poor fellow - at least he should be feeling a lot better soon.

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  7. Annette and Brett...your timing was perfect. So glad they can help sweet Flash. It's good that he communicated with you, and you listened and did something.

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  8. I was worried so thanks for the update. I hope that the other horses steer clear of it.

    We have ticks and lyme here in Nova Scotia but in our area the lyme carrying ticks aren't here (yet).

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  9. Oh my, poor Flash! Sounds like he's in excellent hands and what a relief on the good prognosis! I'm so glad you caught it early :)

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  10. Boo being sick, but I'm glad you caught it early and that the prognosis is so good. Sending lots of healing vibes!

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  11. There are never enough happy endings. I'm so glad for you two and for Flash. I read his story on your link which I loved. I've learned so much about Equines from the blogosphere.
    My son used to play in the canyons (to my horror) above Mission Valley and in all the years he was growing up, I found one tick on him. Here in the Northeast one can't go walking through the meadows and woods in flip flops!! Shoes, socks and long pants required. Kind of takes the fun out of summer.

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  12. And I forgot to mention that I loved the photo of Brett communing with Flash.

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  13. That is wonderful news. The hospital is very impressive and thankfully well-staffed, from what you described.

    Ticks are a real menace in New Jersey. They are the one animal that I would like to see disappear.

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  14. Wow! They don't miss a thing! Yes, Flash was stellar and so were the both of you and the vets. I wonder what Flash thinks of his new accommodations.

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  15. I'm so glad that it's something that can be helped!

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.