Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thars a psuedo-fungus amongus...
If you've never heard of rain rot, I can tell you it is not a fun thing. It's not considered dangerous in and of itself, but: Throw in some freezing temps and continuous rain, and you have the potential for a serious problem. Rain Rot is caused by an organism known as dermatophilus congolensis and while it is not an actual fungus, its behavior is similar to both fungi and bacteria. It occurs in damp, rainy conditions (like the oh-so-soggy south this year, perhaps?) Tiny tufts of hair clump together before falling off with bits of skin attached (Taya's hair in photo left). Also known as rain scald, (and more officially as streptothricosis), rain rot can spread from one horse to another by contact. It is primarily a warm weather issue, which is the reason I never even saw it coming.
When Ya Got the Rot...
Unfortunately, the combination of constant rain, frigid temperatures, winter woollies [theirs], and woolly mittens [mine] allowed this condition to get much further along than it would have at any other time of year. In the early stages, tiny bumps can be felt along the back and across the rump (unless you're wearing heavy mittens). Sometimes the bumps are even visible underneath a horse's summer coat (but not their winter woollies). It just so happened that I laid my hand on Rina's back one afternoon for balance and she gave a subtle wince. I immediately pulled my mitten off to see what was wrong with her back and found the bumps - they were all over the place. Uh oh. I quickly checked everybody else, and found that while Lady only had a few on her rump, Taya's back was covered with the tiny bumps as well (oh dear). Bella and Sara were, thankfully, completely clear. I guess there is an upside to life on the fringes.
 If at first you don't succeed, fail fail again...
Normally, the first step in treating rain rot would be to bathe the horse with an antimicrobal shampoo like Absorbine. Obviously, with daytime temps in the 30s and 40s this was not an option; nor is covering the area, as this will only cause the hair to fall out more quickly. We started with a Tea Tree Oil spray, which I have used successfully in the past. It usually takes a few days of treatment to halt the progression before new hair growth will start to appear; but after several days with no change at all, I had to try something else. Next up was Shapleys which is also rather expensive, but absolutely awesome for manes and tails; it listed rain rot among its many uses. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful as well. Since we happen to live less than a mile from Jeffers Vet Supply, [and feel free to shop through us as they will send us a donation with each purchase] I made a gun run to see what else I could find.  With the temperatures so cold and hair starting to fall out, I was by this point a very desperate woman. I ended up with a bottle of Agri Labs' Foot Rot and Ringworm Spray which was a measly $4.39 (go figure) and a large bag of Manna Pro's Apple Nugget Treats in lieu of lollipops (do you know how hard it is to spray my poor girls with wet stuff every day when it's so cold outside?) My guilt is huge; and even though I know it's in their best interest, they certainly don't.

Treatment gets old in weather this cold...
Finally! Success! WooHoo, and thank the Lord. I have to say that the girls have been absolutely wonderful during all of this. I have been treating Rina every afternoon after supper in her stall, and although she goes through a daily protest ritual because hey, it could work (you know, the worry lines pop up, ears swivel back, chin drops and she assumes a mournful expression that is absolutely pitiful) she still lets me spray her all over. Wondering at some of the words in parenthesis?  Click here to visit our lens on equine body language. Although Rina is loose in her stall, (no halter or tie) she has gradually gotten much better at holding still and just getting it over with. I will say I've had to struggle hard against laughter (it would honestly hurt her feelings) because the moment I lift the spray bottle up, her back drops waaay down and her butt flattens out in preparation against the wet spray. Poor baby. Taya doesn't like it either, but she is a more cooperative soul and I am able to treat both her and Lady unfettered and outside the stalls (simple greed for treats being a mighty motivator :o)
Medical Update: No news is bad news...
Unfortunately, my MRI and the EP tests all came back clear; this is not good. Now for those of you who are thinking I am some kind of idiot [or Munchausen mope] for being disappointed over negative test results, here's the why: The neurologist was 99.9% sure I have Multiple Sclerosis, (based on physical findings and an entire year's worth of strange and snowballing symptoms). Early treatment is absolutely critical with this disease. He expected the testing to verify his diagnosis and after looking up the symptoms, so did I. While clear tests do not completely rule out MS, they do leave me in a state of limbo without any treatment options. So it looks like I am back on the medical merry-go-round, and will be returning to Jacksonville (this time to the  neurology department) for more extensive testing. Whoopee :oP
Someone once said that friends are God's way of taking care of us here on earth; and that is so very true. Especially when it's one who shares my bent sense of humor (because sometimes it's either laugh or cry, right?) Knowing how miserable the past few years had been before this latest health hiccup (cancer, etc.), my friend Lori suddenly showed up on my doorstep with a large piece of sackcloth for me that she had written some scripture on. I have to admit, the not so subtle reference to Job had me laughing like a loon and thanking God for giving me such a wonderful friend. Now all I need are some ashes from the wood stove, and I'm all set, *grin*. Mayo Clinic, here I come...


  1. Next time plain old Listerine. It works great on just about any kind of fungus and best of all, it's cheap.

  2. Thankfully you found something that works for the rain rot - which I'd never heard of before. Hopefully you can find out what's wrong with you so you can get fixed up too. It's good that you have such wonderful friends to take care of you though!

  3. Oh wow, the poor girls. Glad you found something that worked.
    How frustrating that must be with the test results not coming back as expected. Hopefully they get it all figured out quick. I'll be thinking of you and sending you good wishes.

  4. Jayne: Really? Hmm, never would have thought of that one. Learn something new everyday, thanks for the tip! :o)
    BeadedTail: We haven't had any trouble with rain rot for years, this one really caught me off guard. Thanks for the well wishes, and you are quite right: I may be poor in the pockets, but I am rich in friends ;o)
    Ann: Yes, I have to admit I was getting seriously frazzled with the cold temps and hair falling out everywhere. It is very frustrating to wait for a diagnosis (especially for over a year); thanks so much for the thoughts and kind wishes! And I sure can't wait until you get that package girl, it'll be one less thing I have to wait for *grin*).

  5. Would you like to know where you got your rather twisted sense-of-humor? Alas, even after telling Him repeatedly that something isn't funny, He always gets me to laugh in the end. Be assured that He is most definitely with you.

  6. Rain Rot sounds... rotten! I'm glad you found something that's working.

    Wonder what your next step is in getting a diagnosis? I hope they find something that is easy to treat so you will be all better soon.

  7. Gosh I sure hope you can figure out what is wrong with you. I sure hope it isn't Multiple Sclerosis. Maybe it will be something easy.
    One other thing you can try for the rain rot is antibiotics. I have found that works really well. This really is a horrible time of year to have the darn rain rot. It sounds like your place is really full. Good thing for those good friends.

  8. FishHawk: Thank you for your kind words - there have been many times in recent years where it has been either laugh or cry (so the bent in my sense of humor has definitely been a blessing :o)
    Daisy: It's supposed to rain again tomorrow, which doesn't exactly help the girls, but I'm really hoping it will fizzle out. I believe the next step medically speaking is a lumbar puncture (and I am just SO excited about that - eek!) Haven't heard from Mayo yet...still waiting (there's lots of that). Thanks for dropping by girl! :o)
    Marg: *Laugh* I'm thinking easy would have been found long ago, but thanks for the thought. I am glad it wasn't a spinal tumor though (that was a possibility). We may wind up doing antibiotics - we've had several dry days, and the girls are looking much better but I guess it will depend on how much rain we get.

  9. The symptoms look similar to the hot spots I've seen on dogs. I understand what you mean about Rina not liking it. When I had to treat my dog for those hot spots, she would behave in a very similar way. I always felt so bad for her because she was real good at being pitiful. I hope the horses and you get better.

  10. Poor horses :(
    I am so glad you finally found something that works, and that it is inexpensive too! I hope they continue to get better.
    I am still praying for you daily and I hope they figure out what it is soon :)
    Hugs and prayers,
    Meg and Arwen the Wonder Dog

  11. Ratty: They sure do know how to make you feel like dirt, don't they? Thank you for your kind words!
    Meghann: Yes, I was very relieved to finally get it under control. Of course the girls all look like science experiments walking around in the front yard *grin* but at least they're getting better. Thank you for the prayers, I'm so blessed to have you as a friend, girl! :o)

  12. I feel so sad for all your troubles and certainly hope they can get a diagnoses that can be treated soon. I'm so glad you found something cheap that is helping your poor girls also.

  13. Jude: I'll admit I'm a bit tired of being a "Medical Mystery" myself, I have an appointment at Mayo next month, so we'll see. The girls are, thankfully, sprouting lots of new hair so hopefully they'll look a little less bizarre soon. Thanks so much for stopping by! :o)

Your comments really brighten my day!

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