EQUUS - - EQ Case Report -

Two weeks later, a sec­ond vet­eri­nar­ian from 3H, Tracy Tins­ley, DVM, was sched­uled to make a farm call to see another horse. I asked if she could take a look at Whis­per while she was here. When she came, she gave Whis­per the stan­dard phys­i­cal workup I’d seen so many times now. As she worked, I told her my long tale of frus­tra­tion and dis­ap­point­ment with the head­shak­ing. I was ea­ger to hear her take on it, hop­ing for a new av­enue to pur­sue. I was sur­prised when she said she still thought it might be Lyme dis­ease. this in­for­ma­tion with Baker after she’d heard it, which led to the ini­tial test­ing.

When I said that Whis­per had just had a neg­a­tive re­sult on the blood tests, Tins­ley ex­plained that part of the dif­fi­culty in di­ag­nos­ing Lyme is in­ter­pret­ing the titers. Re­sults from an in­di­vid­ual test can be de­cep­tively low, es­pe­cially if the horse has a chronic in­fec­tion or hasn’t yet mounted a large-scale im­mune re­sponse. She sug­gested we start him on a sec­ond round of doxy­cy­cline and test him again, just to be sure.

This time, the re­sults were strongly pos­i­tive for Lyme. I found this con­fus­ing. If Whis­per had Lyme dis­ease, why wasn’t the first round of doxy­cy­cline al­ready con­trol­ling it? Tins­ley said that per­haps the bac­te­ria were “hid­ing” in the ner­vous sys­tem, or maybe Whis­per hadn’t been treated long enough. She en­cour­aged me to be pa­tient and con­tinue the med­i­ca­tion. After all we’d been through in the past year, this was the clos­est we’d been to an an­swer, so I was will­ing to wait it out.

Over the next few days, Whis­per’s head­shak­ing, stiff­ness and ir­ri­tabil­ity be­gan to im­prove. Within two weeks, his signs were gone. I had my happy puppy-dog horse back. A month later, I was able to start rid­ing him again.

To­day, two years later, Whis­per is re­tired due to his fet­lock in­jury. But his head­shak­ing has never re­turned.

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