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Equine Borreliosis is a tick-borne infection caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is sometimes called Lyme disease, named after the town in which it was first discovered. The tick often buries its head into the skin. A large percentage of horses can show no symptoms at all of Equine Borreliosis and can develop antibodies to the infection. Because Equine Borreliosis presents symptoms such as lameness and soreness of muscles which can be caused by various other conditions, diagnosis of equine borreliosis is difficult. Therefore ruling out other causes for the symptoms is the number one priority as a precise diagnosis depends on tests which can be expensive and involve retrieving the organism from the affected tissue.

It would appear that horses kept at pasture seem to be more prone to equine borreliosis than horses kept in more confined areas.

The disease is known as Lyme Disease as it was discovered in Lyme,Connecticut USA.

Some symptoms of Equine Borreliosis

Many of the following symptoms can be associated with Equine Borreliosis

  • mild pyrexia (high body temperature)
  • lethargy
  • weight loss
  • stiffness/lameness
  • muscle soreness
  • synovial effusions
  • laminitis
  • uveitis (inflammation of the eye)
  • behavioural changes
  • hyperaesthesia (unusual sensitivity)
  • ataxia (loss of co-ordination)
  • encephalitis (a viral infection of the brain)
  • renal disease
  • abortion
  • poor performance
  • orthopaedic problems

Cause of Equine Borreliosis

The cause of Equine Borreliosis is infection transmitted to the horse through tick bites. Contact with the tick usually occurs in areas of brush and tall grass.

Treatment of Equine Borreliosis

You should contact your vet to confirm diagnosis. Serology tests will most likely be carried out but these could take a few months to get a correct reading. The most common treatment takes the form of antibiotics such as penicillin and/or tetracycline.

A recent product called ceftiofur, has proved successful with cattle, and has been tried (off-label) to treat horses with reoccurring Borreliosis/Lyme disease. Treatment takes between 2 and 4 weeks. Anti-inflammatory products may also be prescribed.

Unfortunately, symptoms frequently re-occur even though treatment may have appeared successful.

Getting your horse to an equine pool would be particularly beneficial for rehabilitation of limbs affected with arthritis.

Bioflow magnetic products are considered to be very helpful to horses suffering with arthritis. The Bioflow magnets are the only magnets that have actually been researched by the Arthritis Research Campaign and tested for their effectiveness. Bioflow is also registered as a class 1 medical device so beware when buying or trying cheaper alternatives.

A combination of treatment methods will yield the best results.

If, in spite of all efforts, severe chronic arthritis remains and the horse has a persistently painful joint with little movement, your vet may consider it possible to restore soundness by surgically fusing the affected joint. This is occasionally used for the pastern and lower hock joints but only as a last resort after all other forms of treatment have been tried.

There are many treatments being researched for arthritis. Try and keep yourself aware of any new possibilities that may arise for the treatment of arthritis by keeping in touch with your vet, reading equine newsletters and checking internet forums.




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