Polo Players Edition

SEP 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 59 out. I opened the infected area as best I could, then packed it with penicillin- soaked gauze and started the mare on penicillin injections. Another drug that is very effective against clostridia bacteria is metronidazole," he explains. A horse with this kind of infection would also need a tetanus booster. "With this mare I got lucky. She survived, but ended up with large scars on the side of her neck, and some atrophy in those muscles, but all in all she did pretty well. The most important thing in dealing with this type of infection is getting oxygen into the affected tissues, and that's why you see photos of horses with large, gaping incisions into those areas—for oxygen and drainage," he says. "If a person has access to a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, that would be ideal, but most people are not close enough to one, and/or can't afford those treatments. This type of oxygen therapy is an excellent treatment modality for clostridial myositis, however." If the injection site and subsequent incisions are on the neck, the horse will have a very sore neck for a while and it might be painful to put his head down to eat and drink. "You need to help these horses out a little by placing feed and water a little higher for easier reach. If the horse is in decent body condition to begin with, even if he can't eat very well, it will take several days before he really starts dropping muscle condition and body weight. But supportive care to help him eat and drink can keep him from losing too much weight. Depending on where the injection was that caused the infection (neck or hindquarters), you may or may not be able to give IV fluids," he says. "With this particular mare, with the infection in the neck, venous access was not an option because of all the infection and gas under the skin. Trying to get into a vein with a catheter would risk a more serious problem. You can clean the surface of the skin but you can't clean out the contaminated subcutaneous tissue. A person can always give fluids and nutrients via stomach tube (nasogastric tube), which would be safer in this situation than an IV. There are some tubes that are designed to be left in place for several days, and the horse could be fed that way," says Randall. The mortality rate with this type of infection is fairly high, unfortunately, so it's important to get your veterinarian involved as soon as possible, to increase the chances of turning it around quicker. Banamine administration "To avoid the risk for this kind of infection, flunixin products like Banamine should never be injected into the muscle," says Tia Nelson, DVM (Helena, Montana). "They can be given intravenously or orally. There is a Banamine paste, and I try to encourage horse owners to use it if they want to have Banamine on hand in case their horse colics. In an emergency the injectable form of Banamine can be given off label orally (squirted in the mouth)," she says. "Flunixin is readily absorbed from the GI tract and works about as fast as when given IM, but IV administration gives the fastest response (which is usually what you want, in a horse with colic). Flunixin is somewhat irritating to the mucosal tissues, so you wouldn't want to give it very often orally or it may cause ulcers (partly because it's irritating and partly due to the basic pH). But if you need to get the Banamine on board and don't know how to give it IV, you could squirt the injectable drug into the horse's mouth—rather than risk an IM injection. It's not labeled for oral administration, however; it's labeled for IV only." The liquid form is absorbed readily through the mucosal tissues of the mouth and probably is effective even quicker than the oral paste. "IV injection, by someone who knows how to do it, is the best route, but don't try it unless you know what you are doing, because if any of this solution leaks out of the vein you have another big problem. If horse owners need to have some on hand, and are given a prescription for it, and are giving it at home, they need to be very confident in their ability at giving an IV injection. For most of my clients, the Banamine paste is much safer and simpler to have on hand, without the potential for this reaction. If some of the drug slips out of the vein into the surrounding tissue, it burns and damages that tissue, creating serious swelling and blocking the vein. "This may wreck the vein (ending up with jugular vein thrombosis), but that's not a life-threatening thing, compared with a clostridial infection that may kill your horse. Any time you can avoid a problem, it's better than trying to fix it afterward," Nelson says. The old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is very true in this instance A hyperbaric oxygen chamber is the ideal treatment for clostridial myositis, however it can be costly and many may not be close enough to one.

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