Q:My filly had a snotty nose and a cough this winter, but she never really got sick–she just looked bad for two to three weeks. Last week, however, all four of her legs became swollen and we discovered a lump on her head. Not knowing what had happened, I hosed her legs down, gave her Bute (phenylbutazone), and put her in a stall for the night. The next morning she was more swollen so I once again hosed her legs, gave her more Bute, but this time I left her loose to move about the yard thinking she must have stocked up due to confinement.

But after a few hours things seemed to get even worse, so I took her to the vet. The veterinarian said she had vasculitis, and he started her on steroids and a couple other drugs, hosed and wrapped her legs, and things appear to be heading the right direction with the swelling reduced.

What I want to know is if we get through this episode, can it recur for the rest of her life, or is it now cured? This seems like a serious condition that could make her unable to pasture if not watched daily to catch recurrences. Please tell me if it's worth putting more time and training into an animal with this condition.

Kim Grant, via e-mail

A:Vasculitis is a term that describes inflammation of the walls of blood vessels. It can be caused by a variety of different conditions, but it is usually precipitated by a reaction of the horse's own immune system against bacteria, viruses, rickettsial organisms (such as the one that causes Potomac horse fever), drugs and medications, or for unknown reasons.

Based on the fill