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.

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