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Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Posts Tagged ‘Pigeon Fever’

More “Pigeon Fever” Info & Re-Feeding Syndrome Info From UCDavis… April 04, 2010

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on April 4, 2010

The following are copied email texts from “Jane Doe” to Dr. Irwin Liu and Dr. Sharon Spier at UC Davis. “Jane Doe” is being used for this information to be distributed – obviously to protect the privacy of this individual. She had originally contacted Dr. Liu to inquire about birth control for wild horses earlier in the year. This email was directed at the Pigeon Fever infections and the re-feeding of the wild horses that had been underweight.

Dr. Spier and I have been corresponding over the course of this past week concerning the infections and other issues the wild horses are currently facing. She was gracious enough to forward this correspondence to me and to give permission for it to be posted for you all as well.

The information contained in these emails is actually very interesting and may answer a couple of your questions. Also, see the end of this post for several links to references regarding both “Pigeon Fever” and re-feeding syndrome, as well as articles regarding the care and health of horses. 

The figures used by “Jane Doe” have not been verified. Her opinions are her own and are in no way a reflection of the opinions of myself, Dr. Liu, or Dr. Spier unless specifically stated otherwise.


Unknown when this email originated…

Hello Dr. Liu,
This is “Jane Doe” again in Any Town, USA. with a question regarding Wild Horses.  I have asked for your help regarding birth control for the wild horses earlier this year.
The BLM has rounded up over 1900 Horses from the Calico herd and the horses are now in the Fallon, Nevada holding pen. Over 119 have died. This includes approx. 40 foals that the mares have miscarried following the 14 mile chase. Others are still dying of metabolic syndrome, or change in feed. 2 foals died from their hooves falling off from the harsh helicopter chase.
I have read they are feeding them 50 % alfalfa, which I would think is far too rich for a horse having eaten forage all of its life.
My question is, now many horses there in Fallon have Pigeon Fever. The public is allowed to visit only on Sundays from Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in BLM, Calico Complex Gather 2009-2010, Daily Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 106 Comments »

“Pigeon Fever” Information…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on March 30, 2010

1220hrs CST – Update: The veterinarian at Broken Arrow USA (Indian Lakes Road Facility) has released a vet report regarding the “Pigeon Fever” infections at that facility. See below or download pdf at 

Pigeon Fever at Indian Lakes Road Facility in Fallon, NV  


Veterinarian report prepared by: Richard Sanford, DVM. NV# 565  

Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis: 


Of the Calico Complex horses gathered from December 29, 2009 – February 4, 2010, approximately 2 percent of the 1,922 horses received at the facility showed clinical signs of healed chest abscesses from recent Pigeon Fever infection and .25 percent to .50 percent showed more recent or currently were infected with Pigeon Fever.  

As of March 31, 2010, at the Indian Lakes Road facility, Pigeon Fever is still noted at the .25 percent to .50 percent rate, mostly found in the juvenile horses. The incidence of Pigeon Fever at the Indian Lakes Facility is at the same percentages that exist on the Calico Complex. The chest swellings range from golf ball size to grapefruit size. Fly season occurs at the end of summer. Therefore, it is expected that incidents of Pigeon Fever will decrease over time. Disease may or may not reoccur during the 2010 fly season based on environmental factors, such as temperatures, precipitation levels, soil conditions, fly conditions, etc. It is noted that California had severe Pigeon Fever conditions during the 2009 fly season. It is speculated those conditions apply to Nevada as well.  

Horses housed at the Indian Lakes Road facility that have active Pigeon Fever are being monitored. No treatments have been administered to date. Abscesses have all resolved without treatment. No deaths or complications have been associated with infection. Based on 25 years of past experience with wild horses and burros, Pigeon Fever can exist in many of our wild herds depending on current year environmental conditions.  

bacteria which is found in the soil, is most likely transmitted by biting flies and has a very long incubation period (weeks – months). The disease has nothing to do with pigeons. The name comes from the large chest abscesses that some horses can get, which look like the large breast of a pigeon. (Also known as “Dryland Distemper” or “Pigeon Breast”)   

1947hrs CST – Update: 

At this time, I still have not received confirmation and details from John Neill. I did however speak with a couple of the university veterinarians I had contacted.

From Dr. Sharon Spier, Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis… “The bacteria is endemic in both Nevada and Texas and survives for long periods of time in soil, especially if the soil is mixed with manure (like paddocks).  Flies are important as vectors but open wounds could be contaminated if the bacteria is present from other horses draining abscesses.” “Dryland Distemper” C. psedotuberculosis Infections in Horses by Dr. Sharon Spier, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, Professor, Dept. of Medicine and Epidemiology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine ***I highly recommend this article as it has some great information and explains the disease process in detail.***  

Dr. Buddy Faries said earlier that “the disease is not a highly contagious disease, rather it is a chronic disease. This Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in BLM, Calico Complex Gather 2009-2010, Daily Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 89 Comments »