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Equine Diseases

Equine Osteomyelitis

Equine Osteomyelitis is an inflammatory infection of the bone or bone marrow.  This equine infection occurs through the bloodstream and is most likely due to the existence of intracellular bacteria which attach to tissue. Equine Osteomyelitis can also be contracted via trauma to the area causing infection to reach the bone by contamination through an open wound. Multiple bones can be affected by equine osteomyelitis at the same time.  Equine osteomyelitis is found in horses of all ages but affecting foals in particular.

Once equine osteomyelitis sets in, the blood supply to the affected area becomes diminished making it difficult for the body to fight off the infection leading to equine osteomyelitis.

Management of your horse’s feet is the key to avoiding/early detection of equine osteomyelitis.  This means your farrier is an extremely important element in the fight against equine osteomyelitis.  The farrier will recognise injuries which need veterinary attention even though the first signs of foot problems which could lead to equine osteomyelitis may not yet have manifested themselves.

Symptoms of Equine Osteomyelitis

  • Reluctance to bear weight. 
  • Lameness
  • Limb hot and painful


Causes of Equine Osteomyelitis

  • A current or past injury may have affected  the bone leaving it vulnerable to equine Osteomyelitis
  • Equine Osteomyelitis can set in after bone surgery, especially if metal plates have been inserted.
  • An infection in another part of the body can spread through the blood and enter the bone
  • Previous history of laminitis
  • Trauma to the affected area before onset of equine osteomyelitis infection

Treatment of Equine Osteomyelitis
Your veterinary practitioner will decide on some of the following:

  • Stabilisation of the infected fracture
  • Tests of Joint fluid
  • Joint lavage - washing out of any blood, fluid or loose debris from inside the joint space.
  • Antibiotics
  • Homeopathic Treatments – these will help to strengthen the immune system, through use of Echinacea, comfrey and prickly ash bark.  It is best to get advice from an  experienced practitioner in this area
  • Treatment involving chloramphenicol in an apple-flavored, oral vet paste has been known to be effective for osteomyelitis
  • . Surgery




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