Sunday, May 16, 2010

West Nile Vaccine Recall

You may have heard or seen some information in past couple of weeks concerning a recall of West Nile Vaccine. The specific vaccine affected by this recall is marketed under the trade name of PreveNile® and is manufactured by Intervet Schering-Plough. The recall has been issued due to an increased number of adverse event reports associated with the use of this vaccine.

There are several different companies manufacturing and marketing a vaccine against West Nile Virus. However, this particular vaccine being recalled is NOT one that we have been using. If we have administered West Nile Vaccine to your horse(s), or if you have purchased a West Nile vaccine at our office, you have nothing to worry about. The only reason I wanted to bring this recall to your attention is that so if you hear about it elsewhere, you can be aware of the recall and know that it is nothing to worry about.

Get Involved in the Equine Metabolic Syndrome Research Project

The following info came from Michigan State. I thought some of you may be interested in this, so thought I would pass it along.

Nichol Schultz DVM and Molly McCue DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM

The Equine Genetics research group at the University of Minnesota-College of Veterinary Medicine is collaborating with Drs. Ray Geor (Michigan State) and Nicholas Frank (University of Tennessee) to investigate the disease occurrence and genetics of equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). EMS is a devastating disease characterized by three main features: obesity, insulin resistance, and laminitis. Certain breeds or individual horses are predisposed to EMS, and are often referred to as "easy keepers.” These horses are very efficient at utilizing calories and often require a lower plane of nutrition to maintain body weight than other horses. The difference in EMS susceptibility among horses managed under similar conditions is likely the result of a genetic predisposition.

The goal of this investigation is to better understand the role of breed, gender, age, environment (diet and exercise) and genetics in EMS. The success of the study depends on the collection of data from as many horses with EMS as possible; therefore, assistance of horse owners and their veterinarians is critical. To identify the underlying genetic susceptibility to EMS, genetic marker information will be compared between horses with EMS and non-EMS control horses. The long-term goal is to use these EMS genetic markers to detect horses susceptible to EMS and laminitis before they have clinical signs. Once susceptible horses are identified, management practices can be initiated to better protect them from developing disease.

Participation in the study involves 3 steps:

The first step is to fill out a brief, 10 question online survey located at Within approximately one month the owner will be notified if the horse is deemed an appropriate candidate to proceed to “step two”. While not all horses will be chosen to proceed to step 2, the information provided will still be used in the initial descriptive study of EMS.
If the horse is selected as a potential candidate, the owner will be sent a link to a second online survey requesting additional information about the horse and its management along with information about another horse on the property not suspected of having EMS to serve as a “control.” An ideal control horse will be of similar age and breed, have no history of laminitis, not be considered overweight, and not showing signs of Cushing’s (delayed shedding, increased drinking/urination). The owner will also be asked to submit several simple body measurements and digital photos for both horses.
Approximately 6-8 months following the second survey, owners of horses selected for inclusion in the genetic study will be asked to work with their veterinarian to provide a blood sample which we will analyzed free of charge for glucose, triglyceride, non-esterified fatty acid, and insulin concentration (both the owner and veterinarian will receive notification of the results). A portion of the blood sample will be used for DNA isolation and stored for genetic research.
Horse owners assisting in the project will be providing information essential to further understanding EMS and ultimately determining ways to better manage and treat horses suffering from EMS. To learn more about the equine metabolic research project and how you can get involved, please visit:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

COW: Umbilical Hernia Repair

Umbilical hernias are the most common type of hernias that we see in horses. We see quite a few of these every year. A hernia is a defect in the body wall. An umbilical hernia is when such a defect occurs at the location of the umbilicus (belly button). There are a couple of different ways that have evolved to correct these hernias, but I still think surgery is the best option. Sorry, I did not get any pictures of this hernia with horse still standing. When this yearling was still standing the hernia sac was about the size of a softball. I could place three fingers through the defect in the body wall. This first picture is of the horse lying on her back on the surgery table. The hernia sac does not look quite as large, because the abdominal contents that are in hernia when the horse is standing, fall back into the abdomen when she is on her back.

Here is what it looks like after the surgical drape is in place.

This is the horse on the surgery table, connected to the anesthesia machine.

In this picture I am removing the overlying loose skin.

Here I am dissecting down to the hernia ring—getting right down to the sides of the body wall on all sides of the defect.

The next step is to place sutures across the hernia, to bring the body wall back together and keep it there.

As in this picture, in most hernias we repair all of the sutures are pre-placed and then they are all tied one right after the other. This is what it looks like with all of the sutures placed.

This is what the hernia looks like once all of the sutures are tied. You can see that the body wall defect is now closed.

All that is left is to close the skin. In this case I reapposed the skin with surgical staples.

The end.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Feed Through Fly Control

If you are into eliminating flies from your barn, now is the time to start adding feed through fly control to your horse’s diet. We have been recommending the use of Solitude IGR, and have excellent results with this product. This product is very safe. Unlike organophosphates, Solitude IGR has no adverse effect on horses, people or other mammals. It will not contaminate water supplies or pastures and is safe for horses of all ages, including breeding stallions and pregnant mares. It is a daily top-dressing added directly to their feed, every day. In order to achieve best results, it is necessary to begin feeding it two weeks before flies would normally appear. It is also important to treat ALL of the horses in the barn. It will not work well if only a few horses are treated.

Solitude IGR is available in 2, 6 and 20 pound containers. One pound will treat one horse for one month. Given the price of fly spray, Solitude IGR is an extremely cost effective means of controlling flies. We can ship the 20 pound containers directly to you at no extra charge. The WMVS price for this product is as follows:
• $34.12 for 2 lbs.
• $94.38 for 6 lbs.
• $262.45 for 20 lbs.
We offer free shipping, directly to your home or barn, on the 20 lb. containers.

There is much more information available at

Severe Grass Founder Watch

The National Grass Founder Association has included West Michigan in the high risk area for grass founder. The watch area includes the counties of Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan, Newaygo and Kent counties. Horse owner should exercise extreme caution when turning horses out on green grass for the next month. The grasses that grow well this time of year (cool weather) have a disproportionately high level of fructans. This is one particular type of sugar that has been linked to causing cases of founder (laminitis). Horses that are overweight, have a ‘cresty’ neck or you can not feel their ribs are at particularly high risk. Any horse that has previously had an episode of laminitis should also be considered high risk. High risk horses should not be turned out on any grass pasture.

Okay, so there really is no such thing as the National Grass Founder Association, but maybe there should be. Laminitis is one of the most devastating diseases that we deal with. This is the time of year that we see a spike in those cases. Be cautious about turning horses out on grass. Any change in feed should be made slowly, but much more so when the feed is lush green grass. Grass pasture is an excellent feed source, just be careful that your horses do not get too much too soon.