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For the past 6 weeks, my horse has been receiving Ozonetherapy to aid in his chronic back leg related issues- dermatitis (“scratches”), previous DDFT tendon laceration, a history of Lymphingitis, and the residual scar tissue from his DDFT injury. Due to his age (27), he lacks proper circulation in his hind end which does not help him fight his pastern dermatitis.
According to the American Academy of Ozonetherapy, Ozonetherapy is described as;
“Ozonotherapy is the use of medical grade ozone, a highly reactive form of pure oxygen, to create a curative response in the body. The body has the potential to renew and regenerate itself. When it becomes sick it is because this potential has been blocked. The reactive properties of ozone stimulate the body to remove many of these impediments thus allowing the body to do what it does best – heal itself.”
“Ozonotherapy has been and continues to be used in European clinics and hospitals for over fifty years. It was even used here in the United States in a limited capacity in the early part of the 20th century. There are professional medical ozonotherapy societies in over ten countries worldwide. Recently, the International Scientific Committee on Ozonotherapy (ISCO3) was formed to help establish standardized scientific principles for ozonotherapy. The president of the AAO, Frank Shallenberger, MD is a founding member of the ISCO3.”
“Ozonotherapy was introduced into the United States in the early 80’s, and has been increasingly used in recent decades. It has been found useful in various diseases;
- It activates the immune system in infectious diseases.
- It improves the cellular utilization of oxygen that reduces ischemia in cardiovascular diseases, and in many of the infirmities of aging.
- It causes the release of growth factors that stimulate damaged joints and degenerative discs to regenerate.
- It can dramatically reduce or even eliminate many cases of chronic pain through its action on pain receptors.
- Published papers have demonstrated its healing effects on interstitial cystitis, chronic hepatitis, herpes infections, dental infections, diabetes, and macular degeneration.”
After doing research and speaking to one of my good friends, we determined that Chance’s flare up of Lymphingitis, after almost 3 years of not a single issue, could possibly be caused by his immune system’s response to Ozonetherapy. Let me explain.
Chance suffers from persistent Pastern dermatitis (“scratches”) since I purchased him in 2000. I have tried everything- antibiotics, every cream and ointment and spray for scratches, diaper rash ointment, iodine and vaseline mix, Swat, laser treatments, scrubs and shampoos, shaving the area, wrapping the area, light therapy…you name it, I have tried it. So, when we began Ozonetherapy to help break down the left over scar tissue from his old DDFT injury, I noticed that his scratches were drying up and falling off. We continued administering the Ozonetherapy once a week for about 6 weeks. The improvement was dramatic!
However, one day Chance woke up with severe swelling in his left hind leg and obviously, he had difficulty walking. He received Prevacox and was stall bound for 24 hours. The vet was called and she arranged to come out the following day. The next morning, Chance’s left leg was still huge and he was having trouble putting weight on it. I did the typical leg treatments- icing, wrapping. The swelling remained. I tried to get him out of his stall to cold hose his leg and give him a bath but he would not budge. He was sweaty and breathing heavily and intermittently shivering. So, I gave him an alcohol and water sponge bath and continued to ice his back legs. I sat with him for 4 hours waiting for the vet to arrive. He had a fever and wasn’t interested in eating and his gut sounds were not as audible. He was drinking, going to the bathroom, and engaging with me. I debated giving him Banamine but did not want it to mask anything when the vet did arrive.
The vet arrived, gave him a shot of Banamine and an antihistamine and confirmed that Chance had a fever of 102 degrees and had Lymphingitis. There was no visible abrasion, puncture, or lump… I asked the vet to do x-rays to ensure that he did not have a break in his leg. The x-rays confirmed that there was no break. The vet suggested a regiment of antibiotics, steroids (I really am against using steroids due to the short-term and long-term side effects but in this case, I would try anything to make sure he was comfortable) , prevacox, and a antacid to protect Chance from stomach related issues from the medications. It was also advised to continue to cold hose or ice and keep his legs wrapped and Chance stall bound.
The following day, Chance’s legs were still swollen but his fever had broken. The vet called to say that the CBC had come back and that his WBC was about 14,00o. She suggested that we stop the steroids and do the antibiotic 2x a day and add in Banamine. I asked her if she could order Baytril (a strong antibiotic that Chance has responded well to in the past) just in case. And that is what we did.
Being as Chance had such a strong reaction to whatever it was, I did some thinking, discussing, and researching…first and foremost, why did Chance have such an extreme flare up of Lymphingitis when he was the healthiest he has ever been? And especially since he had not had a flare up in 3+ years…plus, his scratches were getting better not worse. The Ozonetherapy boosted his immune system and should provide him with a stronger defense against bacteria, virus’, etc. So why exactly was he having a flare up? And that is when it hit me!
In the past when Chance began his regiment of Transfer Factor (an all natural immune booster), he broke out in hives. The vet had come out and she felt it was due to the Transfer Factor causing his immune system to become “too strong” and so it began fighting without there being anything to fight, thus the hives. My theory- Chance started the Ozonetherapy and his body began to fight off the scratches by boosting his immune system. As the treatments continued, his immune system began to attack the scratches tenfold. This resulted in his Lymphatic system to respond, his WBC to increase, and his body temperature to spike. Makes sense…but what can I do to ensure this is not going to happen again?
My friend suggested attacking the antibiotic resistant bacteria by out smarting them…okay, that seems simple enough…we researched the optimal enviroments for the 3 types of bacteria present where Chance’s scratches are (shown in the results of a past skin scape test). The bacteria – E. Coli, pseudomonas aeruginosa and providencia Rettgeri. The literature stated that PA was commonly found in individuals with diabetes…diabetes…SUGAR! How much sugar was in Chance’s feed? I looked and Nutrina Safe Choice Senior feed is low in sugar…so that is not it. What else can we find out? The optimal temperature for all three bacteria is around 37 degrees celsius (or 98.6 degrees fahrenheit), with a pH of 7.0, and a wet environment. Okay, so, a pH of 7.0 is a neutral. Which means if the external enviroment (the hind legs)pH is thrown off, either to an acidic or alkaline pH, the bacteria will not have the optimal enviroment to continue growing and multiplying. How can I change the pH?
Vinegar! An antimicrobial and a 5% acetic acid! And…vinegar is shown to help kill mycobacteria such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and an effective way to clean produce; it is considered the fastest, safest, and more effective than the use of antibacterial soap. Legend even says that in France during the Black Plague, four thieves were able to rob the homes of those sick with the plague and not become infected. They were said to have purchased a potion made of garlic soaked in vinegar which protected them. Variants of the recipe, now called “Four Thieves Vinegar” has continued to be passed down and used for hundreds of years (Hunter, R., 1894).
I went to the store, purchased distilled vinegar and a spray bottle and headed to the farm. I cleaned his scratches and sprayed the infected areas with vinegar. I am excited to see whether our hypothesis is correct or not…I will keep you posted!
References & Information
Hunter, Robert (1894). The Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Toronto: T.J. Ford. ISBN 0-665-85186-3.
During my horse’s recent Lymphingitis flare-up, the vet advised that we run labs to test for Lyme and EPM due to his presenting symptoms (hind weakness, twisting his back leg at the walk/walking sideways I refer to it as- “Chance’s swagger”). As I noted previously, Chance’s Lyme test revealed that he was at the beginning stages of an acute infection…yay for the labs at Cornell University for their amazing ability to give you more than a positive or negative!
A little history before getting to the EPM Tilter results.
About 2ish years ago, Chance was diagnosed with EPM (and one of the reasons opossums and I are not friends since they host the disease as do a few other culprits). Chance immediately began EPM treatment- he received Protazil in his feed for one month. After hours of research I chose Protazil, although extremely expensive (if you order from http://www.drfosterandsmith.com they sometimes have promotions where you receive store credit for every $100.00 you spend…they did when I ordered and I got a “free” dog bed that my dogs adore), due to the decreased likelihood of Chance experiencing a “Treatment Crisis” (worsening of symptoms) and the ease of administration (other brands require the drug being administered 1 hour before eating or an hour after and so on). Typically, EPM treatment is done for 30 days and, depending on the residual symptoms, some may require subsequent treatments. While Chance’s symptoms improved, I wanted to ensure that we annihilated the disease and did another round of treatment but this time with Marquis. At the end of two months, Chance’s ataxia was gone!
Fast forward to September 2016…Chance, just having a Lymphingitis flare-up, has been tested for Lyme and EPM. Lyme came back positive. And….so did the EPM test..well, kind of. Wonderful. (See why I loathe opossums?)
Chance’s EPM test #2 on 8/30/16 (the 1st one was 2ish years ago) showed the following:
“Combined SAG 2,3,4 Tilter on serum= 1:2000”
So, what does this mean?
The test revealed that Chance had “positive, specific antibodies” detected in the blood work. This means that he had EXPOSURE to S. Neurona, a causative agent of EPM. Serum tilters range from <1:250 (negative) to >1:4000 (high positive). S. Neurona (SarcoFluor) is one of two protozoa found in EPM infected horses, the other protazoa is N. Hughesil (NeoFluor). S. Neurona is most frequently seen, whereas N. Hughesil is not as common.
The vet ran another EPM test to confirm the findings in the 8/30/16 test. The results showed that Chance had “Combined SAG 2,3,4 Tilter on serum= 1:1000. Again, Chance showed EPM protozoa in the positive-ish range.
I initially had not seen the results but was told by the vet that he was EPM negative. So when I asked for the test results to be emailed to me and saw the numbers I sort of freaked out…I emailed the vet to ask for clarification. She explained,
“The EPM test shows that he was exposed to the organism in the first test we did which is why we did a follow-up test. Since his exposure level dropped from 1:2000 to 1:1000 this shows that he does not have the disease. There is no good one time test for EPM once they are exposed which is why we had to do the repeat to compare the two.”
While this explanation offered me comfort, I was confused…why does he have any protozoa in his blood if he doesn’t have EPM?
I spoke to another vet and she explained it in a bit more detail…I am hoping I am summarizing what she said correctly..
When a horse tests positive for EPM they either have an active disease or they may not. However, when the test does from 1:2000 down to 1:1000 this typically means that the horse’s immune system is working correctly to fight the disease off- active or not. EPM testing typically provides you with a % of the chance your horse has an active EPM infection, or at least if you send it to Cornell University. For instance, lets say a horse gets the results back and it shows that they are “positive” or have been exposed to S. Neurona (one of the two EPM protozoa)…their results are 1:647. This means that, after doing a bunch of adding and multiplying that this vet kindly did for me, the horse has a 60-70% chance of having ACTIVE EPM. Meaning, he most likely would be symptomatic (ie: behavioral changes, ataxia, weight loss, difficulty eating, changes in soundness, and a bunch of other neurological symptoms).
My hunch is that Chance’s immune system was boosted because I started him on Transfer Factor (amazing stuff… more information can be found in some of my older posts) again as soon as his results came back positive for Lyme.
Here are the 3 EPM tilters that were run on Chance (oldest to most recent) along with his Lyme test results:
August 31, 2013
by Heather Smith Thomas
For many decades, the typical way veterinarians and horse owners have dealt with disease is by vaccination and by treating sick animals with anti-microbial drugs when signs of illness appear.
By the time the animal shows symptoms, however, damage has already occurred and it can be more difficult to treat the disease. In some instances, irreversible damage has already been done. The use of pathogen-killing drugs is not always as effective as we’d like, and today this use is also being questioned due to the increasing development of drug-resistant pathogens. This microbial resistance diminishes the effectiveness and benefit of some of the drugs we’ve come to rely on.
Horse owners are beginning to look at alternatives to antimicrobial use in dealing with disease. A bright spot in this quest is the use of immune system enhancement and the role of transfer factors. If the immune status of our animals could be enhanced, disease would be less likely to occur, and even if the animals do get sick, the severity and duration of disease could be reduced and they would recover quicker without the need for as much antimicrobial treatment.
Dr. Steve Slagle, a veterinarian in Granite Bay, California, near Sacramento, has been working with a fascinating product that is now available for humans and animals. “The product that I’m using in my practice is a natural immune enhancer and modulator. It derives its efficacy from a protein produced by the immune system’s master immune cells called T lymphocytes. The protein is called transfer factor, and it is also found in cow colostrum. If you buy a bag of dried colostrum (a substitute colostrum product for newborn calves) at the feed store or veterinary supply, about 1% of that product is this protein. We extract that 1% from cow colostrum which enables us to deliver very high levels of transfer factor in our products,” he explains.
“The transfer factors were originally marketed as a human product. I started using them in my veterinary practice in February 1999. So many veterinarians were using the human product that 4Life Research decided to create a veterinary product line for dogs, cats, horses and newborn livestock. Dr. Joe Ramaekers, a colleague of mine, was asked to formulate the product line. Dr. Ramaekers then went on to develop a cancer product for dogs and cats, and a formulation for ruminating livestock,” says Slagle.
“I have been practicing veterinary medicine since 1968 and I have never seen anything that is as exciting as this. I must admit that when I was first informed about transfer factor by a longtime friend, a small animal veterinarian, I was skeptical. He claimed success on so many different types of cases. This didn’t really make sense or seem feasible until I realized some time later that the transfer factors were not treating the particular condition. They were simply enabling the immune system to do its job,” says Slagle
“During the first month I tried it, I used transfer factor on three foals. All three cases were critical and I felt their chances for recovery were slim. The first one was a severe pneumonia. The second was a joint ill infection involving the hock. The third was a terminal septicemia. All three made dramatic recoveries, so I was more than impressed. I was amazed,” he says.
“The two products from 4Life Research that I use most often in my equine practice are Equine Performance & Show (patented for tumors, EPM, Cushing’s and several other diseases) and Animal Stress Pack (for treating acute conditions). Equine Performance & Show is used primarily as a complete high-end daily supplement with maintenance levels of transfer factor and other immune-enhancing ingredients. I also use it on my chronic cases like tumors, Cushing’s, allergies, and autoimmune diseases like pemphigus (a chronic skin disease). Animal Stress Pack is my emergency treatment, with high levels of transfer factor and other immune enhancers, probiotics, electrolytes and stress vitamins,” says Slagle.
“One of our first studies in horses was done at a major Quarter Horse ranch in Texas that was fighting a losing battle against strangles and a rhodococcus outbreak in which they had already lost several very valuable foals. We put the remaining affected foals on Animal Stress Pack and turned the tide on this very serious situation. All of my infectious disease cases receive the Stress Pack. Even though it is not treating any particular disease, we are dramatically improving the immune response, giving the immune system—which is the ultimate disease fighter—the tools it needs to finish the job,” he explains.
This product is patented for use in horses with EPM. At the latest AAEP Convention in Anaheim, California, Slagle met with Dr. Thomas Bello (a research veterinarian with a private practice, Sandhill Equine Center, in North Carolina). Bello had earlier done the clinical trials for a major drug company on their product for treating EPM.
“The literature on EPM treatments had shown that only between 10% to 20% of horses experience full recovery, returning to their original performance levels. Dr. Bello then became interested in our product and began using it for treating horses with EPM, and getting great results,” says Slagle.
“Dr. Bello then presented a paper at the AVMA convention, which was later published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science in 2008—showing that 28 performance horses with EPM were treated with the new EPM product along with the two transfer factor products. At the time of publishing, 82% of those horses were in full recovery. In our recent conversation at the AAEP convention, Dr. Bello told me he now has more than 50 cases in the study, and a recovery rate of over 90%. Apparently the additional immune support was what was needed to bring full recovery. It is also very common to see a relapse in horses that are only being treated with antimicrobials, but Dr. Bello indicated that with his regimen he has not experienced this problem,” says Slagle.
“Since transfer factors are true modulators, my allergic and autoimmune patients go on a daily regimen of transfer factor. Somehow this protein is able to re-educate a confused immune system and bring relief to a large percentage of my equine patients. I generally start them on Performance & Show, along with a week or two of the Stress Pack to front-load the system with high levels of transfer factor. Then when symptoms are under control, we continue with only the Performance & Show,” he explains.
The immune system provides the body with the ability to recognize and remember harmful invaders (pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi). Suppressed or damaged immune systems can have disastrous results. One of the most devastating examples is SCID (a genetic defect that occurs in some Arabian foals). They are born without a functioning immune system. After the temporary immunity from the dam’s colostrum is gone, these foals always die of disease.
A healthy immune system has the ability to remember and recognize pathogens, mounting a defense against them. Disease occurs in humans and animals when the immune system is overwhelmed by the pathogen.
HOW IT WORKS
The body’s immune system produces memory molecules whenever it is exposed to disease or receives a vaccination. These memory molecules are bioactive peptides. An example is the “immune” factor passed from a mare to her foal or a cow to her calf via colostrum. This transfer is critical in helping the immune response cells (antibodies) with identification and activation. They are what we might call super boosters in immunity.
Transfer factors were discovered in 1949. Earlier, it had been noticed that immunities could be transferred from one person to another by blood transfusions. In 1949, Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence, a researcher working on the problem of tuberculosis in humans, found that he could transfer immunity to his patients by using dialyzed leukocytes. When this extract was taken from a blood donor who was resistant to the pathogen and injected into a patient that had no immunity, the immunity of the donor was transferred to the naïve patient. A portion of the lymphocyte (white blood cell) contained what Lawrence dubbed “transfer factor”.
Research was conducted in more than 60 countries (and more than 3500 studies were done) during the 1950s through 1970s and then practically halted. At that point in time, the world’s blood supply was becoming contaminated by HIV and hepatitis C virus and the only known source of transfer factor was blood. Research on this phenomenon was also put on hold because more exciting discoveries revolved around antimicrobial drugs. These were the promising wave of the future that could halt diseases in their tracks. Use of transfer factor was very limited for awhile—especially in veterinary medicine—because it was more expensive to produce than antibiotics. Research did continue, but slowly.
The phenomenon of transfer factor was not actively pursued until the late 1980s when it was discovered that bovine colostrum contains significant amounts of this ingredient that stimulates both aspects of the immune system (humoral and cellular immunity). Veterinary researchers observed a large number of lymphocytic cells in the normal mammary gland secretions of cows, and wondered what role they might play in the health of the newborn calf, realizing that colostrum does more than merely provide passive immune protection. We now know that transfer factor is a lymphokine—one of the protein messengers released by antigen-sensitized lymphocytes (white blood cells).
Chicken eggs also contain transfer factors, and the combination derived from eggs and colostrum increases the effectiveness by 185%. Transfer factors from cow colostrum and eggs are superior to and more functional than transfer factors from humans because animals are exposed to many more species and types of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
As stated by Dr. Richard H. Bennett (Infectious Disease Microbiologist and Immunologist, and former consultant to the National Research Council), transfer factor is one of the most potent messengers in the body and has three effects on the immune system. These are called inducer fractions, antigen specific fractions, and suppressor fractions.
Inducer fractions – One of the functions of transfer factor molecules is to selectively enhance immune surveillance by helping the body recognize various antigens. This selective immune surveillance is made possible by the inducer fractions. One of the veterinarians who consulted with the company that has the patent for extracting transfer factor from colostrum stated that one capsule (200 mg) of transfer factor has the capability of recognizing more than 100,000 different pathogens. Not only can transfer factor be specific for an individual antigen that a lymphocyte might be exposed to, but it can also stimulate a multiple response and provide protection against several strains of that organism.
This enhancement is made possible by the inducer fraction that acts on what are called the Natural Killer (NK) Cells, according to Bennett. The NK cell’s job is to seek out any cells that have been altered by microbes and destroy them. They have a similar protective role in preventing the formation of malignant tumors. The inducer fractions also influence the body’s overall response by increasing the function of the T helper lymphocytes which play a critical role in a balanced immune response to resolve most infections, says Bennett.
The researchers found that they could expose the cow to various bacteria and viruses, and the cow would then produce transfer factor that could stimulate immunity not only to those pathogens but also to other related strains that are much more pathogenic to other species. This is of benefit when using transfer factor to aid disease resistance in horses, for instance. Cows can produce large quantities of colostrum that can then be used for extracting transfer factor that can benefit other species—since transfer factor in horses, cats, dogs, humans and cows has similar structure and identical function.
Another exciting aspect of transfer factor is how quickly the protection is mounted. Immunity from vaccination generally takes 10 to 14 days to develop, whereas transfer factor activates immunity in less than 24 hours.
Antigen specific fractions – Transfer factors act in two ways to “educate” the immune system to respond quickly when confronted by disease threat. One is a response to a specific pathogen such as a cryptosporidium protozoan that might be common to several species, and the other response is to similar pathogens—such as herpes virus infections that differ from one host species to another. Thus transfer factors can “educate” the immune system to recognize and fight a wide array of related, but not identical, infectious agents, according to Bennett.
Suppressor fractions – In every physiological system in the body there are checks and balances, so transfer factor can also act to suppress immune function when necessary. The process of achieving balance is called homeostasis. Once a disease threat has been confronted, and a sufficient response has occurred to thwart it, the body must down-regulate the battle so the immune system can return to a resting state and conserve its resources for the next challenge.
The suppressor fractions signal the T helper lymphocytes and the cytotoxic T cells to slow down their activity and return to a quieter state. This “quieting down” the immune response is important because some pathogenic microbes can hide in certain body tissues and the immune response becomes directed toward those tissues, leading to autoimmune diseases. The suppressor fractions of transfer factor appear to be the way the body limits overzealous immune responses, according to Bennett, and becomes the body’s means to protect itself from an inappropriate immune response.
It seems paradoxical that the transfer factor can both stimulate and suppress immune function, but this is part of its important role. Thus it can prevent autoimmune diseases, and other situations where the body’s own immune response has over-responded to antigens, such as allergic reactions and COPD.
Stressed animals generally become more vulnerable to disease because stress (and the resultant rise in cortisol levels) hinders the immune system. Slagle and Ramaekers tested the transfer factor product on stressed calves to see if it controlled cortisol levels. “We have done two controlled studies on stress and cortisol levels of stressed calves entering the feedlot. One was in Tiffin, Ohio at a private, veterinary-owned and operated feedlot. We repeated that study at Texas A&M. Our results were basically the same. We took blood samples twice daily for 12 days and saw a 46% reduction in cortisol levels in the calves that received transfer factor, with a large decrease in treatments, along with better weight gains,” says Slagle.
“We have not repeated that kind of study in horses, but with the responses (reduced incidence of disease in stress situations) we see in horses, I feel the results would be similar,” he says.
The use of transfer factor to stimulate the body to mount a better immune response to pathogens can reduce the need for antimicrobial drugs. This can help retain their effectiveness longer, since over-use of these drugs has led to increasing numbers of resistant pathogens. We need to find ways to maintain their effectiveness as long as possible.
Transfer factor can boost immunity within a few hours. This makes it very beneficial for use in newborn foals, horses that will be transported, or even as a post-exposure treatment when you know a horse has come into contact with disease agents. Veterinarians have also been using transfer factor to help horses deal with frustrating problems like Cushing’s, laminitis, colitis, cancers, allergies, chronic metritis, EPM, pigeon fever, scours, strangles, and many viral diseases. Helping the immune system help itself is the promising wave of the future.
For more information, Dr. Steve Slagle can be reached in Granite Bay, California at 916-791-2911 or Dr. Joe Ramaekers at 831-476-5050 or check his website: www.ramaekersnutrition.com
The below research was found athttp://www.epmhorse.org/Treatment/Other_Therapy.htm
Veterinarians should discuss other drug therapies, in addition to the protozoa killing drugs, to address symptomatic problems that may occur during treatment. Limiting inflammation of the cerebrospinal column, stimulating the immune system, and anti-oxidants are three things that the owner should be prepared to handle during treatment. If the veterinarian does not discuss these, ask about them.
An active S. neurona infection in the central nervous system (CNS) will produce both temporary inflammation and permanent nerve damage. The inflammation can get worse when the protozoa start to die during treatment. This can happen as the treatment drug level builds in the CNS, and is known as a ‘treatment crisis’. Watch for symptoms to get worse 7 to 14 days after the start of treatment drugs.
Inflammation by itself can cause permanent nerve damage, so treating it is important. Veterinarians report that horses with higher neurologic deficiencies, and possibly higher levels of protozoa, tend to get treatment crises more often that horses with a Mayhew score of 1. Some veterinarians will place a horse on anti-inflammatory drugs immediately, to prevent additional damage to the CNS.
Banamine Many owners already have the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Banamine at the barn. Even if your horse is a 1 on the Mayhew scale, you may wish to have Banamine on-hand to deal with any worsening of the symptoms. Banamine can cause gastro-intestinal side effects such as ulcers when given in high doses, or longer than five days. A January 2009 cost was $35 for 5 doses.
MicroLactin This supplement is gaining recognition as an overall, mild anti-inflammatory. This non-prescription supplement is a derivative of cows milk, and is known as Duralactin, or the ingredient ComfortX in Equinyl. MicroLactin does not have side effects, so it can be used over the entire course of treatment. It is possible to supplement with Banamine during a treatment crisis. March 2009 price was $50 per month.
Dexamethazone (Dex) This steroid suppresses the immune system, so it should not be used as an anti-inflammatory for EPM horses except in an extreme neurological case. Used longer than 5 days, it can cause Laminitis.
DMSO Dimethyl sulfoxide given intravenously, can be useful when the horse has extreme neurological symptoms. The veterinarian should administer this drug, it should only be used for short time periods, and it can interact with other drugs.
In many regions of the U.S. more than 50% of the horses have been exposed to EPM. Researchers do not know why less than 2% of them get an active infection in the CNS. Studies on blood of EPM horses indicate a change in the immune system response and cells. Relapse rates for EPM are high, often with the same symptoms. Some researchers believe that the relapses are latent infections which were never completely killed, and the immune system does not recognize. Immune system stimulants have been suggested to help the horse fight the infection.
Levasimole This drug has been used as part of a wormer, and anti-inflammatory. It is known to increase immune response. It has not been clinically tested specifically for use with EPM, but is being used for it.
Transfer Factor This supplement has been around since the 1940’s for human use. The older studies on humans suggest it increases the cell-mediated immune response. It has not been clinically tested in horses. The supplement is suggested to increase the cell-mediated immune response (see research below). It WILL NOT kill the protozoa; it is only an immune booster. It is made from cow colostrum, eggs, and mushrooms. At least two companies produce this for equine use, and while the main ingredients are the same, there are differences. 4 Life Research and Nutrition Horizons USA offer this at March 2009 prices of $150 to $200 per month.
Vitamin E has been shown to relieve inflammation, promote regeneration of nerve cells, and is an anti-oxidant protecting the CNS. This vitamin is suggested by many veterinarians for supplementation during and after drug treatment for EPM. It crosses the blood-brain barrier to work in the CNS. A deficiency in Vitamin E is thought to impair the blood-brain barrier. It is suggested at therapeutic rates from 5,000 to 10,000 total IU per day. Add the total Vitamin E content of all supplements and feed to reach the target rate. Research has shown that natural source vitamin E (D-alpha tocopherol) is absorbed by the body better than manufactured E (DL-alpha-tocopherol).
A 2006 study published in Veterinary Parasitology indicated: “Our results demonstrated that naturally infected horses had significantly (P < 0.05) higher percentages of CD4 T-lymphocytes and neutrophils (PMN) in separated peripheral blood leukocytes than clinically normal horses. The product MicroLactin has been shown to limit neutrophil activity thereby reducing the inflammation process in the CNS. The study goes on to say, “Leukocytes from naturally infected EPM horses had significantly lower proliferation responses, as measured by thymidine incorporation, to a non-antigen specific mitogen than did clinically normal horses (P < 0.05). Cell-mediated immunity is lowered in EPM positive horses.
An ongoing study by Dr. Bello, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, vol. 28, issue 8 (2008), uses Marquis, MicroLactin, and transfer factor in a protocol. The initial study involved 28 horses, and 8 more have been studied. This study was presented at the AVMA conference in 2007, and was published in 2008. The full text article is available below with permission from Dr. Bello.
Continuing research by others indicates controlling inflammation is a large part of the treatment process, and immune system stimulation is critical to avoiding relapses.
Veterinary Parasitology 138 (2006) 200–210
J Appl Res Vet Med 2003;1:272-8.
J Eq Vet Sc, vol. 28, issue 8 (2008) 479-482
An Intensive Approach in the Treatment of Clinical Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis
Am J Vet Research, June 2008 Vitamin E
J Eq Vet Sc, vol. 25, issue 9 (2005) 380-382
TheHorse.com articles # 12025, 4829