BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There's a new warning out for any horse owners, especially those who have some foals.
The increased rain has LSU veterinarian Neely Walker seeing more cases of joint ill bacteria in baby horses.
"Foals are not born with a fully functioning immune system. They usually get immunity through their mother's milk," said Walker.
Walker says horse owners need to monitor any foals very carefully. She said the the bacteria, also known as septic arthritis, generally only affects babies the first week they're born because their umbilical opening takes that first week to completely close. Bacteria can make its way through that opening and hit the joints.
Walker said the recent rains and puddles increase the chances for bacteria and mud to easily get through the umbilical opening. Once a foal contracts joint ill, it can spread to several joints and even be fatal.
"If you don't treat it quickly and aggressively, usually you don't only lose the joint itself, but you also have the potential of losing the foal. Research has shown 42-87% of foals affected with septic arthritis usually don't make it," said Walker.
It's crucial to pay attention to the symptoms. Any baby horse infected with the bacteria will show signs of lameness, joint swelling, fever and diarrhea because their immune system has been comprised. So if your horse is expecting or you have a recent foal, watch them carefully to ensure your bond with your horse is indeed lifelong.