Joint Ill

An old- fashioned term for septic arthritis in foals. Generally caused by blood borne spread of pathogenic bacteria most likely from an infection or abscess in the navel or associated blood vessels within the first week or two of life but can occur up to one month of age. It may progress to osteomyelitis (bone infection) in the adjacent bone. Multiple joints are commonly involved.

Poor sanitation in the foaling environment and failure to disinfect the navel at birth will predispose to joint ill. Difficult or prolonged birth and placentitis in the mare along with foal dysmaturity may also predispose to the condition.

Symptoms. Lameness accompanied by a rise in temperature with heat, pain and swelling of the joint and adjacent soft tissues. Foals may be listless and fail to suckle.

Prompt veterinary treatment is essential if serious joint / bone damage is to be avoided. Treatment includes administration of antibiotics by various routes, culture and sensitivity testing the bacteria in a sample of joint fluid to aid in antibiotic selection, radiography and perhaps arthroscopy of affected joint(s).

Any foal developing lameness before one month age should be suspected of having joint ill until proven otherwise.

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