Equipment loaded, the vet and I headed to a yard for the first patients of the day.
The first horse had similar symptoms to the horse we saw the previous day, with lumps, so the horse was treated for an allergy.
On my work experience with equine vets, I saw how difficult it can to pinpoint an allergy like with any species due to the large range of environmental variables.
Something that is not covered by my biology specification is allergic reactions, so I decided to read up on this topic in my great big red biology bible due to my great interest in immunology.
An allergen is an antigen that triggers an allergic reaction, a heightened immune response. During the primary exposure of an allergen, B cells differentiate into plasma cells and produce IgE. Individuals, in this case horses, with allergies will produce a large amount of this immunoglobulin. This is an issue because IgE binds to mast cells and on the secondary exposure of an allergen, this antigen attaches to the IgE bound to the mast cells. As a result, the mast cell with lysis and histamine, serotonin and heparin are released.
In generalised responses, histamine released in large quantities can be fatal due to bronchioles restricting and arteriole dilation. However, in this case the allergic reaction has caused lumps in the skin.
Antihistamines can work by competitive inhibition by occupying histamine receptors.
The second treatment was a topical corticosteroid which is absorbed into the skin and reduces inflammation by constricting blood vessels and inhibiting the chemical reaction causing inflammation. Steroids are naturally occurring hormones.
The second horse patient was due a routine dental examination.
Due to the hay and feed components of a horses diet, with less grazing, the teeth are not naturally wearing down. Therefore, the vet used a hand rasp to smooth the edges of the teeth whilst the horse had a gag on. Routine visits, like with humans, prevents serious dental problems. A horse with sharp edges to their teeth can be difficult to work, due to the pain from the bit.
Once we were back at the vet practice, I started reading my goat veterinary book, until a lame goose was brought in for an examination.
A non steroidal anti inflammatory was administered in order to reduce the inflammation and pain. NSAIDs inhibit cyclooxygenase, COX, enzymes which have an important role in the process of inflammation.
It is vital to note that cyclooxygenase enzymes produce prostaglandins that activate platelets, they protect the lining of the stomach and intestine, it is not an ideal long-term drug for conditions such as arthritis.
The final case of the day was a cow with a serious case of mastitis that was unaffected by the usual course of antibiotics. Therefore, an E-coli infection was suspected which is an environmental infection that has entered through the teat end.
Vets have an major role in implementing methods to reduce antibiotic resistance at farms, and to educate owners about the risks of not completing courses of antibiotics or using them when unnecessary.