Sport Horse Fo­cus

The re­cent AAEP Re­sort Sym­po­sium had prac­ti­cal ad­vice for ve­teri­nar­i­ans and horse own­ers.

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Have you ever con­tacted your vet­eri­nar­ian when your horse “just isn’t right” or has an acute on­set of lame­ness? When the vet­eri­nar­ian ar­rives, he or she likely wants to do a full workup, which might in­clude neu­ro­logic test­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to pre­sen­ter Amy L. John­son, DVM, DACVIM (in Large An­i­mal and Neu­rol­ogy), an As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Large An­i­mal Medicine and Neu­rol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s New Bolton Cen­ter, ve­teri­nar­i­ans know that neu­ro­logic dis­ease can mimic or be mis­taken for an or­tho­pe­dic prob­lem. And some horses might have both lame­ness and a neu­ro­logic deficit. “Care­ful clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and ap­pro­pri­ate di­ag­nos­tic test­ing and in­ter­pre­ta­tion are the keys to ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis,” said John­son.

Know­ing that equine pro­to­zoal myeloen­cephali­tis (EPM) and Lyme dis­ease are two po­ten­tial causes of neu­ro­logic prob­lems in horses, you might in­sist that your vet­eri­nar­ian im­me­di­ately test for those prob­lems. John­son said test­ing with­out clin­i­cal rea­sons, es­pe­cially for EPM, might be a waste of time and money.

“Us­ing a sys­tem­atic di­ag­nos­tic ap­proach to cases where neu­ro­logic prob­lems could be present is time-in­ten­sive, but in the long run will re­duce costs to the owner and im­prove di­ag­nos­tic ac­cu­racy,” said John­son.

She stressed to ve­teri­nar­i­ans dur­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion that, “The start­ing point should al­ways be the clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, not sero­logic test­ing

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