Planning a road trip? Keep your horse happy and healthy during the journey, with expert advice from Liz Brown MRCVS
Q. Should I worry about shipping fever on a UK journey?
A. SHIPPING FEVER, or pleuropneumonia, is an infection which may occur after travelling. Bacteria present in the lungs can multiply and cause pneumonia, inflammation and secretion of fluid into the surrounding cavity, known as the pleural space.
Contributing factors during travel are dehydration and a prolonged head-up position, both of which reduce drainage of mucus from the lungs. Additional risk factors include recent fast exercise or viral infection, exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage, or exposure to inhaled particles.
While shipping fever can occur after a shorter trip, longer journeys represent an increased risk. Keep a horse well hydrated, make sure he does not overheat and untie him periodically to allow him to lower his head.
Initial signs include a high temperature, lethargy and appetite loss, and may progress to laboured breathing or an unsteady gait. A delay in veterinary treatment can result in more severe disease, which may have a poor prognosis for survival.This feature can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 6 May
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