Dire Diagnoses: Identifying Three Potentially Deadly Equine Diseases

Not all diseases have cut-and-dried diagnoses. In this article, veterinarians walk us through actual cases of three tough-to-diagnose diseases: botulism, EPM, and Potomac horse fever.

Dire Diagnoses
Knowing the realm of diseases your horse's clinical signs might indicate could impact the information and urgency you convey when you call your veterinarian. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Veterinarians walk us through three real-life examples of potentially deadly equine diseases

Murphy’s Law lives strong in the horse world.

If there’s one nail in a 40-acre pasture, unseen forces seem to inevitably draw your horse to it, resulting in a nasty gash. The one time you leave the feed room door unlatched, your horse escapes his stall and gorges on grain, resulting in a painful case of laminitis or colic. And if there’s a disease-causing organism within 50 miles, it’s as if it must hone in on your horse.

Some types of cases appear on your veterinarian’s call list almost daily: palpations, lacerations, lameness. But less-common diseases—including some that might manifest as more common ones—can come as out-of-the-blue

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Written by:

Diane Rice earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin, then married her education with her lifelong passion for horses by working in editorial positions at Appaloosa Journal for 12 years. She has also served on the American Horse Publications’ board of directors. She now freelances in writing, editing, and proofreading. She lives in Middleton, Idaho, and spends her spare time gardening, reading, serving in her church, and spending time with her daughters, their families, and a myriad of her own and other people’s pets.

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