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Friday, February 21, 2014

Recurrence of Pharyngeal Pythiosis in a Horse

The image in Figure 1 is that of a "normal" larynx and pharynx in a horse. In Figure 2-4, the pharynx is filled with granulomas that are nearly completely obstructing the larynx. The images in Figures 2-4 belong to a middle-aged quarter horse mare that has been treated several times over 2 years for pythiosis of the pharynx. After each treatment with systemic anti-fungal medication, the granulomas shrink in size and the hemorrhagic discharge stops (Figure 4) . However, once the medication stops, the granulomas slowly begin to re-grow and the discharge returns. The image in Figure 4 was taken approximately 12 months prior to Figures 2 and 3. Although the granulomas are present and there is some drainage, the over-all condition of the pharynx is better than what we see in Figures 2 and 3!

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4
 The most likely scenario in this case is that the pythiosis pathogen resides within the granulomas and although they shrink and appear to become inactive, the pathogen persists. Once the medication is stopped, the pathogen is allowed to multiply and the granulomas grown unabated!  Pythiosis was once believed to be a fungi put is now described as an algae that lives in stagnant water throughout the southeastern United States. The pathogen gains access to the horse through small wounds in skin or mucosa. I have diagnosed pharyngeal pythiosis in over a dozen horses in the past 10 years. Every case has involved horses with access to free standing water and all have responded favorably to the systemic anti-fungal. The case imaged in the figures above has been refractory and proven difficult to completely resolve!!

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