Horse Diseases > Anasarca or Purpura Hemorrhagica

Anasarca or Purpura Hemorrhagica

A previous attack of influenza is a common predisposing cause of this disease, which appears most frequently a few weeks after convalescence is established. It occurs more frequently in those animals which have made a rapid convalescence and are apparently perfectly well than it does in those which have made a slower recovery. Anasarca commences by symptoms which are excessively variable. The local lesions may be confined to a small portion of the animal's body and the constitutional phenomena be nil. The appearance and gravity of the local lesions may be so unlike, from difference of location, that they seem to belong to a separate disease, and complications may completely mask the original trouble.

In the simplest form the first symptom noticed is a swelling, or several swellings, occurring on the surface of the body - on the fore­arm, the leg, the under surface of the belly, or the side of the head. The tumefaction is at first the size of a hen's egg; not hot, little sensitive, and distinctly circumscribed by a marked line from the surrounding healthy tissue. These tumors gradually extend until they coalesce, and in a few hours we have swelling up of the legs, legs and belly, or the head, to an enormous size; they have always the characteristic constricted border, which looks as if it had been tied with a cord. In the nostrils are found small reddish spots, which gradually assume a brownish and frequently a black color.

Examination of the mouth will frequently reveal similar lesions on the surface of the tongue, along the lingual gutter, and on the freanum. If the external swelling has been on the head, the petechiae of the mucous membranes are apt to be more numerous and to coalesce into patches of larger size than when the dropsy is confined to the legs. The animal may be rendered stiff by the swelling of the legs, or be annoyed by the awkward swollen head, which at times may be so enormous as to resemble that of a hippopotamus rather than that of a horse. During this period the temperature remains normal; the pulse, if altered at all, is only a little weaker; the respiration is only hurried if the swelling of the head infringes on the caliber of the nostrils. The appetite remains normal. The animal is attentive to all that is going on, and, except for the swelling, apparently in perfect health.

In from two to four days, in severe cases, the tissues can no longer, resist the pressure of the exuded fluid. Over the surface of the skin which covers the dropsy we find a slight serous sweating, which loosens th epidermis and dries so as to simulate the eruption of same cutaneous disease. If this is excessive we may see irritated spots which are suppurating. We may now find some enlargement of the lymphatic glands, which are fed from the affected part. The thermometer indicates a slight rise in the body temperature, while the pulse and respiration are somewhat accelerated. The appetite usually remains good. In the course of a few days the temperature may have reached 102, 103, or 104 degrees F.

Fever is established, not an essential or specific fever in any way, but a simple secondary fever produced by the dead material from the surface or superficial suppuration, and by the oxidization and absorption of the colloid mass contained in the tissues. The skin may suppurate or slough more or less over the areas of greatest tension or where it is irritated by blows or pressure. The great swelling about the head may by closure of the nostrils interfere seriously with breathing. Internal edema may occur in the throat, lungs, or intestines. Septicemia, or blood poisoning, may result from anasarca.