Veterinarians Report Pericarditis Cases Still Being Seen

Horse owners should not become too lax even though researchers say the insult that caused the foal losses and other health problems this spring in Kentucky and other states probably is past.

There still are lingering problems in the aftermath of the initial injury. Dr. Fairfield Bain, a specialist at the Hagyard-Davidson-McGee internal medicine unit in Lexington, reported on May 30 that there have been several additional pericarditis cases in the clinic since the news conference last Thursday, May 24, when cyanide from black cherry trees was put forth as the most probable cause of the spring syndromes. Bain said those new pericarditis cases occurred in yearlings, foals, and older horses. Two horses had received previous treatment for the problem that is caused by fluid accumulating in the sac around the heart.

Bain said managers and owners should be alert and looking for an animal with a persistent fever or general malaise. Distention and pulsation of the jugular vein and muffled heart sounds heard with a stethoscope are clinical signs of this problem. Immediate treatment should be sought for any animals thought to have this problem.