Tryon Equine Hospital P.L.L.C

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Case Study: Sky the Sick Foal

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Case Study: Sky the Sick Foal

Emilie Setlakwe, DVM, MSc, ACVIM-LA from Tryon Equine Hospital in Tryon, NC.

Sky is a week-old Spotted Saddlebred filly that was admitted as a patient into Tryon Equine Hospital for evaluation of weakness and failure to thrive since birth. The filly also developed acute diarrhea. She had been given a plasma transfusion by her referring due to inadequate IgG (immunoglobulin) levels, making her more prone to infection. She was born to a multiparous mare and believed to be term.

Upon arrival to the hospital, Sky appeared dull and her mucous membranes were dry, pale pink, with reduced capillary refill time. The jugular veins were swollen and slightly thickened The filly had liquid diarrhea during her examination. Examination revealed the foal to be premature. Sky was diagnosed with failure passive transfer (FPT), sepsis (generalized infection), and enterocolitis (inflammation of the small intestine and colon). Radiographs taken of her limbs also revealed evidence of mild incomplete ossification of her cuboidal bones, consistent with being slightly premature.

A catheter was placed in the filly, who was administered intravenous and oral antibiotics to treat her for suspected sepsis (i.e. generalized infection) as well as cover her for possible clostridial diarrhea. The filly was treated with intravenous plasma over the course of the next 48 hours to address her failure of passive transfer, provide caloric support and fluid therapy. The filly was also placed on a gastroprotectant and lactaid to aid in the digestion of milk, given the enteritis (diarrhea).

The filly showed improvement in her demeanor, nursing and consistency of the diarrhea during the course of hospitalization. After a week of treatment at the hospital, the intravenous catheter was removed and the filly was switched an oral antibiotic. At the time of discharge, the filly was bright and alert and displaying normal foal behavior.

The filly was discharged from the hospital with instructions to remain confined to a stall with her mom for 30 days, due to the delayed ossification of her leg bones in order, to avoid complications from overuse of incompletely ossified bones.

Since she was discharged, Sky has shown great resolution in her signs and doing much better.