WHEN SHIP­PING FEVER STARTS

EQUUS - - Medical Front -

Ef­fec­tive screen­ing for pleu­rop­neu­mo­nia, com­monly called ship­ping fever, may re­quire longer fol­low-up after a trans­port than pre­vi­ously thought, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­na­tional study.

Re­searchers at Ki­tasato Univer­sity in Towada, Ja­pan, and the Equine Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal Cen­ter at the Qatar Foun­da­tion in Doha, Qatar, mon­i­tored the body tem­per­a­tures of 53 young Thor­ough­breds and An­glo-Ara­bi­ans dur­ing trips that lasted from 36 to 61 hours over three dif­fer­ent study pe­ri­ods.

Rid­ing in com­mer­cial trail­ers driven by pro­fes­sional haulers, the horses were given rest stops every four to five hours. Each horse was pro­vided with a hay net and wa­ter but was not al­lowed to lower his head be­low knee height---a re­stric­tion that in­hibits clear­ing of the air­ways and is known to in­crease the risk for ship­ping fever. Re­searchers trav­el­ing with the horses took their tem­per­a­tures every three to five hours dur­ing the jour­ney and one fi­nal time at the end of the trip.

Twenty-five of the study horses devel­oped signs of ship­ping fever in the week after trans­port, but only 10 of those had fevers at the very end of the trip. This, the re­searchers note, “sup­ports the sug­ges­tions that mea­sur­ing body tem­per­a­ture upon ar­rival to de­ter­mine the pres­ence or ab­sence of ship­ping fever could re­sult in missed di­ag­noses for some horses with sub­clin­i­cal pneu­mo­nia.”

The high­est in­ci­dence of fever oc­curred from 20 to 49 hours after the start of the trip, so con­tin­u­ing to mon­i­tor a horse’s tem­per­a­ture for that pe­riod, even if he is no longer trav­el­ing, “is a sim­ple method for not miss­ing horses with sub­clin­i­cal pneu­mo­nia,” the re­searchers con­clude.

LATE AR­RIVAL: A horse de­vel­op­ing trans­port-re­lated pleu­rop­neu­mo­nia may not have a fever im­me­di­ately after a long trailer ride.

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