South Shore Equine Clinic & Diagnostic Center
Equine Veterinary Services South Shore Boston Massachusetts

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Bits & Pieces: October 2009

Project Samana

Game Ready

The Unwanted Horse Council

Introduction to Lyme Disease

Project Samana, named for the town in which it is based, is an outreach program of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) begun as a way to help the animals and people of the Dominican republic, the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere.   In Samana medical resources are scarce. Numerous stray and unwanted pets and genetically deficient work animals are both a burden and a source of disease.  By neutering the animals and training local practitioners in basic care and first aid, we have begun to help those who are unable to help themselves.

Our mission is simple:

  • Provide necessary surgical and medial services to the animals of Samana.
  • Educate animal owners in health care and proper use of work horses and mules.
  • Provide medical and surgical training to local veterinarians and students from Dominican schools.
  • Provide our team of veterinarians and veterinary students first hand experience with the problems plaguing animals of third world countries.

To date, more than 4000 dogs and cats have been spayed and neutered; and more than 700 stallions have been castrated.  We educate the people on animal care, nutrition, basic first aid, parasite control, tick infestation and any other afflictions that we treat.  Team Samana also works with an Eco-tourism group who documents the health of individual horses.  This allows monitoring of the animals who are too sick or thin to work and enables us to follow up on cases from prior trips.  We have encouraged a mule breeding program as mules are hardy animals that adapt well to the local climate and conditions thus are more resistant to disease and more productive for the farmers.  Team Samana has strengthened the human animal bond and given the animals a chance for a better, healthier life.  The influence that this experience has had on the over 100 veterinarians, technicians, and students who have made the journey, gotten back to the basics, and brought altruism back into their daily lives is the everlasting legacy of Project Samana.  
           
Dr. Reilly and Dr. Cimetti have both volunteered in Project Samana for over 10 years (that’s where they met!). They have donated their time, supplies and knowledge to improving the living conditions and well being of the horse and mule population. If you would like to learn more about the project, volunteer or contribute a tax deductible donation for Project Samana, please contact our office or the MVMA. The next trip is scheduled for November 2009.

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Game Ready ® - A Sound Investment
SSEC is introducing Game Ready as a new option for therapy and rehabilitation for your horse. The Game Ready systems have been used by top riders and veterinarians to aid in the recovery and prevention of injuries such as: chronic lameness, cellulitis, tendonitis, pre/post operative care, bowed tendons and more. Some benefits of Game ready are:

  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased swelling
  • Decreased tissue damage
  • Speedy recovery

HOW IT WORKS... Game Ready was engineered using NASA spacesuit technology and combines dry cold and active compression therapy that follows the physical therapy practice of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation used for human athletes. Form fitted wraps target specific areas of need; the Game Ready system continuously cycles cold water around the entire targeted area, removing maximum heat and promoting fresh blood flow.

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The Unwanted Horse Council was created by members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in 2005 as a way to educate current and future equine owners on how to “own responsibly”. The number of neglected and abandoned horses has been steadily increasing for the past few years due to changes in financial circumstance, loss of interest or simply because of increasing age and loss of competitive suitability. As any horse owner knows, it is a tremendous responsibility to be part of a horses life and it is just as important to be aware of what options are available should your horse become unwanted, no matter what the reason. Some factors to consider before purchasing a horse are:

  • Financial responsibilities (board, care, general maintenance)
  • Healthcare costs (unexpected sickness)
  • Will I, or my child lose interest?

Should the situation arise that you can no longer provide adequate care for your horse, it is important to be aware of any available options including but not limited to:

  • Adoption
  • Retraining
  • Retirement

For more information, visit: www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org

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An Introduction to Lyme Disease
In 2006, Lyme disease was labeled as the most common tick-borne disease in the US.  According to university research, many horses in endemic areas are, or have been, infected, which is evidenced by the fact that 75% of horses in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states already have antibodies against the organism.  Lyme disease has been found in 44 states, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, Japan, and Australia.
           
Horses, and for that matter humans and dogs, become infected with the Lyme disease organism (Borrelia burdoferi) from the bite of a deer tick.  Studies have shown it takes at least 24 hours for a tick to transmit the disease, but what we don’t know is how long an animal can be infected before it begins to exhibit signs of infection.  Unfortunately, a horse suffering from Lyme disease may have signs which mimic many other diseases. 

The signs of Lyme disease are often vague and vary quite a bit.  Fever, muscle aches, and fatigue can also be typical of many viral infections.  Joint pain and stiffness may be due to injury or arthritis.  Many horses also may appear to be neurologic, which can be confused with protozoal myelopathy (EPM), encephalitis, motor neuron disease (EMND), degenerative myelopathy, spinal cord disease or pelvic pain.  Horses are often hyper aesthetic – they have increased or altered sensitivity to sensory stimuli and/or resent touch or pressure.  We often hear the horse is grumpy, acting very mare-ish, or seems unwilling to work and just doesn’t seem like his/her normal self.

Fever and limb edema are more likely a result of Anaplasma phagocytophila infection, also a tick borne disease.  Thankfully, the diagnosis and treatment are very similar.

Diagnosing Lyme disease is difficult due to the fact the most common presenting complaint is lameness.  It often takes a few days to weeks to develop clinical signs after the tick bite.  The disease can also be episodic or chronic in nature.  There also is no common location of lameness – it may be forelimb, pelvis, spine, or a hind limb problem.  Eye problems have also been reported, appearing similar to moon blindness (recurrent uveitis).  On the bright side, some of the more serious signs seen in people and dogs such as liver, heart, and kidney problems have not been reported in horses.  Lyme disease is rarely fatal in any species!

Lyme disease has been on the rise for the past decade.  The weather patterns here allow the tick to survive and reproduce very efficiently.  Please give us a call if you would like to discuss any part of this article, or if you would like to get your horse tested.  Look for the next Bits and Pieces for Lyme Disease Diagnosing and Treatment!

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