What is equine epilepsy?

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    Seizures in horses can arise for many reasons, but may be a sign of equine epilepsy.

    It is not that uncommon for young foals to have transient fits when they have an infection or are temporarily starved of oxygen during a difficult birth, just as with human babies.

    Fortunately, this is usually a temporary problem.

    Similarly, in adult horses there are numerous causes of seizures, but when they occur intermittently seizures are most often due to the equine equivalent of epilepsy.

    Like humans with epilepsy, the horse is healthy and behaves completely normally in between episodes, showing no outward signs of a problem.

    It can therefore be very difficult to make a diagnosis.

    Unfortunately, because horses are very large creatures, when they do have violent seizures they can do significant damage to themselves.

    This is an extract from the veterinary feature ‘What killed Mark Todd’s Gandalf?’, published in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine (8 July, ’10)

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