A newly purchased horse arrives at the barn and looks under the weather. Are his signs related to transport stress, or are they signs of a more serious problem? This is a situation veterinarians and horse owners often find themselves in and one that requires thorough evaluation and proper diagnosis.
Diagnosing Early Signs of Sickness
In one particular case, a horse arrived at the barn with nasal discharge and a low-grade fever.
The trainer chalked it up to stress from transporting. However, soon after, the horse developed a cough, prompting a visit from the veterinarian who recommended a Serum Amyloid A (SAA) test using Stablelab, a hand-held stall-side diagnostic blood test. SAA is a major acute-phase protein produced by the liver. Its concentration rapidly and dramatically increase in response to an infection, making it a reliable biomarker for inflammation due to infection.
The horse’s test results revealed an SAA concentration of 603 (normal level is 0), indicating inflammation due to infection. With this timely detection, the veterinarian, along with other clinical findings, made his diagnosis and determined that antibiotic therapy, using EXCEDE (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension, was needed to help treat the horse’s infection before symptoms worsened.
Monitoring Treatment Success With SAA
Following the course of treatment, the veterinarian conducted a second SAA test to monitor the horse’s response. SAA testing with Stablelab can be a valuable tool, not just for diagnoses, but especially to monitor the responsiveness to and ultimate success of treatment plans.
Veterinarians should consider using multiple tests as needed to monitor therapeutic plans at work. If subsequent tests show SAA concentration trending up or leveling off, that is an indicator that a new or more aggressive treatment plan is needed.
SAA Testing — Horse-owner Approved
In this case, Stablelab helped the veterinarian diagnose his patient’s infection versus noninfection early as well as monitor the horse’s treatment response. But the veterinarian isn’t the only one to appreciate the benefits of this diagnostic tool. The horse’s owner, Anne Ewing, had a positive experience with SAA testing — a tool she didn’t know existed for horses. She found it comforting that they were able to quickly diagnose the issue and implement treatment without leaving the horse’s side.
“This was the first time that SAA testing had been offered to me, and now I have great confidence in this test,” Ewing said. “We were able to detect the infection, put a treatment plan together and monitor his response to the treatment, all within days. I recommend all my fellow horse owners talk to their veterinarian about SAA testing if they think their horse may be coming down with something or is just acting off.”
To learn more about SAA testing with Stablelab, contact your Zoetis Equine specialist or visit Stablelab.com.