Dr. Megan’s Farewell

Intern MeganThe last week of my year long internship with Anoka Equine is here. The feeling is very bittersweet as I think of all the wonderful people (and their horses) I have met. Working with the Doctors at Anoka Equine has been such a pleasure. They are tremendous resources and fantastic mentors.

Deciding to begin my career with an internship at Anoka Equine was one of the best decisions I ever made. I began this internship year, lacking confidence that I could carry out all the duties required of an Equine Veterinarian. I worried about such things like being able to suture up a bad laceration or effectively diagnosing and treating colic. These are some of the many things I can do now without hesitation.

Spending the first couple of months learning from the veterinarians at Anoka Equine, I quickly gained the confidence to know I could tackle a number of equine veterinary problems and by the end of the summer I looked forward to going out on calls on my own. This year has flown by so fast, it seems like in a blink of an eye I went from being nervous about the most routine cases to taking on even the most challenging, yet I always knew I had the great support of the Doctors at Anoka Equine. I have grown so much as a veterinarian in this year and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people.

I also have the fantastic clients of Anoka Equine to thank! When I first started, I worried how clients might receive me as a new vet and intern. I was quickly reassured with the first appointments I saw that the clients of Anoka Equine are some of the best people around! I was so appreciative of their kindness and will greatly miss so many.

When recent graduates tell you that the learning curve is steep, you really do not realize how much until you are experiencing it for yourself. I feel fortunate to have had an internship with such great mentors do I didn’t have to tackle that climb alone. Thank you again to the Doctors, Technicians, staff and clients at Anoka Equine for making this year such a great experience!

I am excited to begin my new career as an Associate Equine Veterinarian at South Carolina Equine Associates in Camden, South Carolina. I feel well prepared for this new position and that is because of this internship year. Although, I will miss so many things about Minnesota- the friends I have made, the lakes and the twin cities area to name a few. I can’t say I will miss the Polar Vortex that was winter this year! It’s now time for me to trade in the insulated coveralls for light weight khakis. Best of luck to this year’s new intern Chelsea Farnsworth!

Happy Trails!




West Nile Virus

By: Katie Jones, CVT

Mosquito Isolated on WhiteWith the snow beginning to melt we have started to anxiously await the warmth of summer. With the warm weather though comes all the other “joys” of summer. One of these is the infamous mosquito. Mosquito do more than pester you out on the trails; they also bring and spread disease to you and your horse. West Nile Virus has become spread through the whole country. The disease was first reported in the United States in 1999 in New York, with the first reported case in Minnesota in 2002. In 2013, the USDA reported 64 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in 23 states (The Horse).


West Nile Virus is circulated in a complex cycle; which can be seen in several species of lifecyclemosquitos. The migration patterns of wild birds are believed to be the cause of the national spread of the disease. The cycle begins with the mosquito biting infected wild birds which carries the disease in their salivary glands. They then spread the disease to whoever becomes its next blood meal. Humans and horses are incidental hosts; otherwise known as dead end hosts. Once the disease has entered the blood stream the virus multiplies and travels throughout the system. The virus then crosses the blood-brain barrier where it enters into the brain interferes with normal central nervous system function. In newly acquired regions of the disease, humans and birds contract it first, followed by horses. Being bit by an infected mosquito is the only way to contract this virus. It can not be spread from human-human or animal-animal.

Most cases are reported in horses from August to the first frost in fall; however, prevention should start occurring in early summer.

Though the horse may be infected with the disease, they do not always show signs. West Nile Virus commonly will cause inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS). Here are a few common signs a horse has been infected with West Nile Virus:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Weakness or paralyzed hind limbs
  • Impaired vision
  • Ataxia
  • Head pressing
  • Aimless wondering
  • Seizures
  • Inability to swallow
  • Walking in circles
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Coma

If your horse is experiencing any of these commonly seen with encephalitis, the horse should be examined by your local veterinarian. Not all horses that are showing encephalitis signs have West Nile Virus; there are several other diseases with encephalitis symptoms.

At this time there is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus. Treatment for horses is focused at supportive care and anti-inflammatories. Even without a specific treatment for the West Nile Virus, it is important to get diagnosis by a local veterinarian in order to know mosquitos are carrying the virus in the area.

Although there is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus, there is an equine vaccine recommended to prevent the contracting of the disease. Like all vaccines, it will not guarantee one hundred percent protections for your horse.

To reduce risk of developing West Nile Virus in your area, here are a few tips:West_Nile_Logo_Fnl

    • Remove anything that accumulates standing water
    • Remove unused tires from your property
    • Keep horses indoor during peak periods of mosquito activity (dusk to dawn)
    • Clean ruff gutters
    • Turn over wheelbarrows
    • Empty and refill outdoor water troughs daily
    • Stock ornamental pools with fish
    • Decreased the number of birds around your barn and pasture
      > Eliminate roosting areas
    • Use topical preparations containing mosquito repellent

Though West Nile Virus is a serious and detrimental disease, horse can recover. Consider talking to your local veterinarian about ways that you can cut down the mosquito population in your area, as well as adding the West Nile vaccine to your spring preventive care checklist.

For more information call your local health department or check these websites:
Center of Disease Control and Prevention
American Mosquito Control Association
Minnesota Mosquito Control

Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU)

By: Katie Jones, CVT

From time to time owners and veterinarians will occasionally see a horse that has developed Equine Recurring Uveitis; otherwise known as “Moon blindness.” Uveitis can be a painful eye disease of any aged horse. It is the most common inner eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in horses. Uveitis was first discovered in the 1600s with occurrences being linked to the phases of the moon; thus, the name “Moon blindness” came about.

This disease can be caused by several factors; the leading one being a Leptospirosis bacterial infection. Leptospirosis has a spirochete (coiled) shape with flagella along the length of it. This particular shape allows the bacterium to move in a twisting motion, which enables it to move easily in fluid. This bacterium can be found in the environment, specifically in areas of stagnant water or contaminated urine. This bacterium enters the horse either through a break in their skin or the ingestion of infected urine. Uveitis is not directly caused by the exposure to the Leptospirosis bacterium; it is due to the molecular makeup of Leptospirosis being very similar to the structure of the eye. Uveitis is the result of the body’s reaction to the foreign Leptospirosis protein; it attacks both the bacterium as well as the eye due to the similarities.

Besides the development of a Leptospirosis infection, any trauma or inflammation to the ocular barrier (barrier between the blood circulation and the internal eye) can cause the horse to develop uveitis.

Uveitis can affect one or both eyes. Here a few common traits seen in a horse that has fig2_240x180developed an infection: redness, squinting, tearing, and the eye will appear cloudy. As the infection continues to become more of a chronic issue, the horse may develop behavioral issues associated with decreased vision; such as: spooking, bumping into things, and being reluctant to go into dark places.

Horses are not considered to have Equine Recurrent Uveitis until they have had two or more episodes.

fig1_240x180Treatment is focused on preserving vision in the eye and reducing inner eye inflammation due to the body’s immune response. Early examinations of the eye by a veterinarian and treatments are vital to avoid series complications.

If after eye medication treatments the horse is still suffering from recurring episodes, medicated implants can be discussed with a veterinarian. With this option, Cyclosporine implants are surgically placed under the sclera where the eye can constantly absorb the medication. These particular implants will deliver medication for three to four years, and will hopefully prevent future episodes.

Although Equine Recurrent Uveitis can be a serious and devastating disease, with early diagnosis and proper care horses can be fortunate enough to not lose vision in the eye.

Plant Week

University of Minnesota Extension

Day One: Waterhemlock

Waterhemlock Flower Identification: Can be two to seven feet tall, with hollow stems that are branched at the top. White flowers that are borne in umbrella shaped clusters called umbles. The roots produce a yellowish fragrant oil when cut. Leaves are toothed edges and grasps the stock like celery bunch.

Habitat: Swamps, lowlands, and along water edges

Signs and Effects: Animals are commonly found dead after ingestion of the roots. In observed cases horses showed anxiety and facial muscle twitching, seizures, and teeth grinding.

Treatment: Animals that ingest the root and survive for eight hours after the onset of clinical signs are more likely to survive. There is no specific treatment for the ingestion of Waterhemlock.

Day Two: Foxtail

FoxtailIdentification: The seed heads look like a bottle brush and are green or light green in color.

Habitat: Found in recently disturbed soils and sandy areas. They can be found in pastures and hay fields after periods of drought or new seeding.

Signs and Effects: Horses that ingest the seed heads may delevope blisters or ulcers on the lips and mouth from the microscopic barbs embedding into the soft tissue. The horses may develop weight loss due to gastrointestinal tract being damaged is large amount is ingested.

Treatment: Removal of the plant and supportive of the blisters or ulcers such as rinsing with water.

Day Three: Field Horsetail

Field Horse TailIdentification: Hollow, wiry, jointed stems, whorled leaves. No flowers are produced; instead a cone like structure is at the top.

: Found in moist to wet soil, usually sandy or gravely in texture.

Signs and Effects: Horses develop depression, constipation, and unsteady gait usually one to two days after ingestion. Clinical signs progress to twitching, going down, paddling, and seizing for a period of a week or more.
Treatment: Thiamine is given for up to five days.

Day Four: Hoary Alyssum

hoary_alyssum1Identification: Stems are grey-green, hairy, one to three feet tall, with many branches near the top. Flowers are white with four deeply divided petals. Seed pods are hairy, oblong and appear to be swollen with a point on the end.

Habitat: Meadows, pastures, and is a common weed in hay fields. It is also adaptable to dry conditions on sandy or gravely soil.

Signs and Effects: Clinical signs are usually noticed 12-24 hours after ingestion. Signs include edematous, swelling of the lower legs, fever of 103F or higher, warm hooves, pronounced digital pulse, stiffness of joints, reluctant to move, “camped out” stance, and very rarely death.

Treatment: Clinical signs usually resolve after two to four days with supportive treatment following removal of the weed source. It may take horses longer before returning to athletic performance.

To get the complete book of poisonous or harmful to horses in the North Central United States you can visit the University of Minnesota Extension Service.