A friend of mine has a horse, 21 years old and he is, amongst other things, prone to develop hoof abscesses. At the beginning of February, Knut got a hoof abscess on his right hind leg. A short while later, he came up with one on the left front leg. Because neither the vet, nor the Ferrier could find and cut them open, he was placed on strong painkillers, which of course has no effect at all, because a hoof abscess is one of the most painful things you can ever suffer from.
Then he stopped eating. The abscess on the hind leg was found, and a short while later, so was the one on his front leg. Then he got a new abscess on the right front leg as well, which luckily burst over night. With three legs down, we figured that he was in so much pain that it made sense for him to stop eating, even though, he does not usually respond like that. And I write usually, because it is not the first time he has been through multiple abscesses at the same time. Still, it kind of made sense, until my Apocalipse suddenly ran a fever and stopped eating as well.
That’s when it snapped for me. What if Knut was not suffering from just the hoof abscesses? What if he has a viral infection as well? My vet said that Apocalipse had a virus, no kidding, probably the same one Apollon had died from, and here is when I start to worry. What if we managed to infect my friend’s horses as well?
I know that my horses has been exposed to the virus, they lived with Apollon, there is no getting around that, by the time we found out how sick he was, it was far too late to isolate him. I know to that once you have been exposed to a virus, it stays with you for a long time, maybe even for the rest of your life, and it will break out when you are weak, or if you are exposed to contamination again, straining your immune system.
When Apollon was sick, I was very stubborn about not going anywhere near my friend’s horses, because I wouldn’t want the virus to spread.
Now, I must wonder, is it a coincidence that my young horse stops eating at the exact same week as my friends? In my ears, it sounds a little too much like a coincidence. My friend’s vet is saying that Knut has no symptoms of a viral infection, and the fact that he is not eating, is a bad reaction to the painkillers he was on.
That can be. I just don’t believe in coincidence. And I must pause when my horse gets sick around the same time as hers, with much the same symptoms. (Excluding the hoof abscesses, of course, Apocalipse just ran a fever for a few days, and didn’t eat for a week.) And no, Knut didn’t have a fever. As far as we know. No one checked, we all believed it was the abscesses that caused him to stop eating.
Then Knut started swelling up, in his abdomen and foreskin. Sounds familiar? I can hardly stand to look at it, I feel sick just to be around the horse while it is displaying symptoms like that, simply because this is what killed my beautiful Apollon.
Granted, Knut didn’t swell up as bad as Apollon did, and one must take into account that Apollon’s immune system never dealt well with viral infections at all, but still, this is very similar.
Knut. Click on them.
My friend’s vet said that Knut was most likely suffering from lack of protein, because he had not been eating for almost two weeks by then.
My little head is imploding to hear that. Lack of protein? Really? On a 21 year old horse? From two weeks of starvation? Do symptoms really show that quickly?
And why on earth were they so adamant about Knut, not having the same virus? What are the odds?
So, they did blood tests on Knut, and after yet another week, (clearly not in a hurry,) he had started eating again, and the results came in, showing lack of protein. I asked to see the test. Yes, I am that person. I question authority. Especially when it concerns the wellbeing, and quite possibly the life, of my horses. My friend is really upset with me for not trusting her vet, but I just can’t get any of this to make sense and in my head, the most likely scenario is that her vet has misdiagnosed the horse and mistreated it for three weeks straight, and is not “big” enough to own up to it.
Quite an accusation, I know, small wonder that my friend is angry with me, and had I not suspected that a contagious virus was at play, I would have let it slide, but this time, I can’t. I want to see that test, if I am to help her take care of her horses, while Knut is showing symptoms. I want to know, beyond a shadow of doubt that this IS lack of protein and that it WAS a coincidence that Apocalipse got sick around the same time as Knut. I have four young horses and an unborn foal to consider, and I am not losing any of them if I can help it. If that makes me a hysterical bitch, then so be it.
I am a bit stumped that my friend does not want to see the test herself, honestly. It is one thing to trust your vet, but after having watched Apollon die from something like this, how can she have that kind of blind faith in anyone?
So, after quite an argument, where she made sure to point out that if I didn’t trust her vet, I didn’t trust her, she agreed to ask him for a copy of the test. I am still waiting to hear from her. And no, I don’t trust her vet, I don’t trust anyone with my horses. I double checked my own vets when Apollon had his blood work done, and those guys I have known for 16 years.
I got to admit, I hope I am wrong. I hope her vet is right. I hope it is not that virus, but honestly, who can blame me for being terrified?
I am. I stare at my horses, day in and day out, wondering if one of them will suddenly swell up any random place, and I will be damned if I am going to introduce any kind of new or old, virus to my pasture, if I can help it.
Luckily Apocalipse seem to have recovered completely, without swellings, but then again, clearly you never know. Knut is on the mend as well, I have been told, which is great news. Still, I really, really need to see that piece of paper, and make sure that Knut does not have a viral infection, I don’t think I will be able to sleep at night until I have.
So yes, this is causing friction between us and one could argue that I could just keep quiet and honestly, for a long time I have, but I cannot now. Not when my horses could, yet again, be in danger. No amount of trust is ever going to settle that nagging voice inside me, that keeps saying, “what if”…
I must mention that Apollon is not the first horse I have known to have died from a seemingly innocent viral infection. I took care of a young mare when Apollon was young, Zalza, and she started out not eating, having a sore throat, and a mild fever for about a week. The diagnoses was a viral infection and she should have recovered, except, she didn’t. She was slowly paralyzed.
The viral infection settled on her spine and crept from her tail all the way up to her neck, slowly, but surely, paralyzing her, until she was lying in her stall, unable to do anything besides blink her eyes sadly. There was nothing anyone could do. Believe me, they tried.
I was told then, that the more a horse is exposed to this kind of virus, the higher the risk of it ending up like Zalza, or Apollon, unable to fight it off. I will not take it lightly, not this time, not ever. I need to know what is happening with Knut, and no one, no matter how good a friend, is going to tell me to trust her, or her vet, with the life of my horses. I have seen too much, lost too much, and I know, I can never be sure, but I can damn well try.
So here I am, once again, worrying too much, and this time, hopefully, for nothing at all. I will know, once I see that bloody test.