Growing moon blindness cases cause concern for horse owners - - Jackson, MS

Growing moon blindness cases cause concern for horse owners

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By Julie Straw - bio | email | twitter

 MADISON COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Two year old Buckshot was a playful horse.  That was why his owner, Peggy Brown, was alarmed  when she found him irritable, protecting his left eye.

"The blue was all yellow, about the color of scrambled eggs, and I was like this is not right," said Brown.

Buckshot had what is known as moon blindness.  It is a painful disease that leads to blindness. Some symptoms include puffy, watering eyes, squinting, redness and white cloudiness.  Dr. Josh McNeil is a veterinarian at Dixie Equine.

"Typically the way moon blindness is transmitted is from cattle or wildlife actually urinating into standing water.  The horse comes and drinks the water and catches the bacteria that way," said Dr. McNeil.

15 cases a year of moon blindness is what Dr. McNeil usually sees.  When that number spiked to 25 cases in two and a half months he started researching.  McNeil called equine specialists at Cornell University.  He shared the findings with a group of several dozen concerned horse owners Thursday.  Kenny Horn traveled all the way from Bay Springs for help.

"We're here in hopes if there's something new out that we can try we're willing to try it," said Horn.

McNeil suggested a vaccine, typically used on cattle, to ward off the disease.  "So far we've administered over 700 doses of the vaccine and we have not had one case of Equine Recurrent Uveitis in any vaccinated individuals," said Dr. McNeil.

As for Buckshot, Brown turned from conventional to alternative medicine.  "I am certified acupuncturist.  I do herbology as well.  We just tried alternative therapy and it worked for her," said Dr. Tai Curry Fox, owner of Mississippi Equine Sports Medicine.

In five and a half weeks, the horse has had no reoccurrences. "He's back to normal, flossing with his lead ropes and doing everything he did before," said Brown.

There is no known cure for moon blindness.  Dr. McNeil is not affiliated with Dr. Fox and does not promote her use of alternative medicine.  Dr. Fox said she is trying to provide a variety of options for horse owners.

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