Safety warning - from experience.

Moundridge, KS(Zone 6a)

I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but after a four month battle, I am concerned about letting people know about a potential problem that can come from horses. Some new horses were brought out to our barn in early March. They had been through an auction and of course were in a new place with new horses, and likely the stress reduced their immune systems. Runny noses and coughs developed and spread through everyone (the horses) slowly. The upper respiratory infections weren't too bad, but we did go ahead with antibiotics within a few days as we could see the colds spreading. One mare was due to foal any time and was not eating well so I was handfeeding some to get some extra nutrition into her. I had a scrape on the back of my left hand knuckles and apparently got some of the runny nose gook into the open area. I was treating it with neosporin and band-aids and it did heal over and appeared to be fine. At the end of March I suddenly became very sick and my hand became severly swollen and red on that knuckle. To make a long story short, it turned out that I had picked up a particular variety of strep that is a normal resident of most horses respiratory systems, and only becomes troublesome if immune systems are depressed, resulting in upper respiratory infections. The number of cases of transmition to humans is very small, but it causes very severe problems when it does happen. Because it is so rare, I was not properly diagnosed and treated for over six weeks. I developed both acute glomerulonephritis and septic arthritis which has destroyed the afore mentioned knuckle in my hand and my left knee. My right elbow had also become infected, but they got the right treatment going at that time and it is fine now. I will not be able to have the knee replaced 'til next spring because of the infection so will be using a wheelchair and crutches 'til then. Other people who have contracted this bacteria have develpoed meningitis and endocarditis, and some have died from it. As I said in the beginning, I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but I do want to get the word out to those who enjoy horses, like I do, that the potential is probably there with almost every horse. If I had taken the time to wear gloves, or even gotten onto an oral antibiotic when the cut became infected, I probably would be out running (at least walking) around my yard right now. The bacteria is streptococcus equs zooepidemicus group c. Most physicians, and even vets are really unfamiliar with this so knowledge on the part of all those who work with horses could hopefully prevent someone else from having to deal with this.
Kathy

Huron, OH(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the info Kathy. It's good to know so we can take the precautions necessary.

Fuquay-Varina, NC(Zone 7a)

(this is a lecture my students get twice a year...once at the beginning of the year when we talk about handwashing and why I don't like hand sanitizer, and when we go over the human body.)

anytime we break the skin, we run the risk of developing infection. There are nasty germs all over your skin and in your environment. If you ever get a cut, you should follow some basic steps to make sure not to develop complications.

1. wash thoroughly with soap and warm water. Sing Happy Birthday to You twice before you are done.

2. no picking scabs

3. recognize if you are developing an infection (and then I show them a hot, swollen infection.

4. Silly cuts can turn into MRSA, that nasty flesh-eating stuff, etc and actually can cause heart failure. GO TO THE DOCTOR IF YOU DEVELOP AN INFECTED WOUND

Richmond, TX

Good grief! I had no idea such an infection was possible. Thanks,Willowwind, and I hope you continue to recover.

Moundridge, KS(Zone 6a)

Thank you porkpal. I am a nurse, and I had no idea either, nor was I able to identify the symptoms in the beginning, as they mimicked something more like rheumatoid arthritis. I am feeling very good now, but by the time I have a knee replacement, this will have taken a year to recover from. I wouldn't want this to happen to someone else so am trying to get the word out to just be aware and use the good habbits gaiadisciple discribes. The other thing I would add is that any infection on a knuckle area should be treated with an oral antibiotic. This area has lots of cartilage and little blood supply, so bacteria can hide down in the cartilage and quietly multiply...as they did in my case. It doesn't hurt to specifically ask your doctor for this treatment if he doesn't suggest it in the first place.
Kathy

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

I hope you recover 100% and thanks for the information! I'm a bit paranoid myself, but I must admit, maybe not enough...

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Thanks willow for bringing this to our attention!! Better to be safe than sorry.

By the way, what part of Kansas are you in? I'm in MO, just east of KC bout 30 miles.

Moundridge, KS(Zone 6a)

I'm about 30-40 miles north of Wichita. We live in the country south of Moundridge. I went to college at KU and even took quite a few classes at KU Med Center in KC, but that was long ago. I do know your neck of the woods somewhat though...beautiful country!!!

Willow

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Willow, thank you for the warning and hope your healing progresses quickly. A terrible thing for you to have to go through :(

Lana

Moundridge, KS(Zone 6a)

Thank you Lana. I'm really doing well now, but am still reliant on crutches and a brace until I can get the knee replacement next spring. Then look out world, here I come! Just pass the word along, as part of the problem for me was that no one recognized it because it is so rare. Knowledge is a great preventative.

Willow

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