Article Text

Purpura haemorrhagica in 53 horses
  1. N. Pusterla, DrMedVet1,
  2. J. L. Watson, DVM1,
  3. V. K. Affolter, DrMedVet2,
  4. K. G. Magdesian, DVM1,
  5. W. D. Wilson, DVM1 and
  6. G. P. Carlson, DVM1
  1. 1 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology
  2. 2 Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA


The medical records of 53 horses with purpura haemorrhagica were reviewed. Seventeen of them had been exposed to or infected with Streptococcus equi, nine had been infected with Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, five had been vaccinated with S equi M protein, five had had a respiratory infection of unknown aetiology, and two had open wounds; the other 15 cases had no history of recent viral or bacterial infection. The horses were between six months and 19 years of age (mean 8-4 years). The predominant clinical signs were well demarcated subcutaneous oedema of all four limbs and haemorrhages on the visible mucous membranes; other signs included depression, anorexia, fever, tachycardia, tachypnoea, reluctance to move, drainage from lymph nodes, exudation of serum from the skin, colic, epistaxis and weight loss. Haematological and biochemical abnormalities commonly detected were anaemia, neutrophilia, hyperproteinaemia, hyperfibrinogenaemia, hyperglobulinaemia and high activities of muscle enzymes. All of the horses were treated with corticosteroids; 42 also received non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and 26 received antimicrobial drugs. Selected cases received special nursing care, including hydrotherapy and bandaging of the limbs. Most of the horses were treated for more than seven days and none of them relapsed. Forty-nine of the horses survived, one died and three were euthanased, either because their severe clinical disease failed to respond to treatment or because they developed secondary complications. Two of the four non-survivors had been vaccinated against S equi with a product containing the M protein, one had a S equi infection and the other had a respiratory infection of undetermined aetiology.

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