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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sarcoids - the most common skin tumor in horses worldwide

My filly had this spot on her face that looked like a bug bite, and she had to little lump on her left front shoulder that was just a bump, you could barely see it but you could feel it.  Both of these have been there for over a year.

In May 2013 we went to the vet for coggins and I asked about them.  He told me it was a form of cancer called a Sarcoid.  I asked him what I needed to do about it and he told me to watch it and to leave it alone.  He said if it started growing then something would have to be done.  I asked what and he told me that he could remove it surgically ($400) but it would come back several times until we could get all of it and each time it came back it would be worse.  It could easily take 10 or more surgeries to get all of it.

This is my baby.  I wanted a second opinion so I called and made an appointment at another vet and was told the same thing.  I came home and started researching.  I found out that these are common to horses and if you bothered them they got angry and then turned aggressive.  Just from the two vets looking at them and touching them they turned aggressive.  They had stayed the same size for a year and from May to July both of them started growing like crazy.

Both vets and my research told me that there was lots of ways to treat them and almost none of them worked, the Sarcoid would come back worse and you would have to do treatment again.  It could get so aggressive that it would spread rapidly over large areas of the body and the horse would have to be put down.  Sarcoids are caused by the Bovine Papilloma Virus.

I wasn't willing to try something that was going to assure me of losing her.  So I went back to researching it.  I found two products that assured me they would work.  I called and talked to both vets about them.  Both of them agreed that the product called Xxterra would work but it was painful to the horse and it would get a whole lot worse before it got better.  Over a few months it would kill it and it would fall out and leave a big hole and I would then have to deal with severe infection.

Only a vet can purchase this product.  They were both willing to order it for me and both of them refused to use it on her, I had to do it.  Research states the following about Xxterra. It alters the antigenicity of a sarcoid to stimulate the hosts immune system and results in an immune rejection reaction of the sarcoid.  It also says that 10% of horses will have a recurrence and have to be treated a 2nd time.  The 2nd time it says that 2% will have a 3rd recurrence.  After the 3rd treatment there is no documentation of it coming back.

I had the vet order it for me.  1 ounce is $100.  You use it daily for 4 days and then take a 10 day break.  If it's not flaking and cracking you do another 4 days and you keep doing it till it's gone.  Usually it is about 60 days.  You can't even treat them one at a time because when you start the treatment on one the virus will try to go to the other one.  It's painful to the horse as it burns it down to the root.  It has to be bandaged, the one on her shoulder is going to be heck to bandage and her cheekbone is going to be even worse.

In my research I read 100's of reviews from people who has used Xxterra.  All of them said it eventually worked and the horse had not had any recurrence once they were gone.  But, god the horror stories I read of the effects of using it.  It seems to be the only option.  The other product that is also supposed to work can only be purchased from the University of Liverpool by a vet.  I couldn't find a price for it.

Today is July 25, 2013 and I applied it for the 1st time today.  Because there are so many people on the internet asking if anyone has used Xxterra and wanting to know exactly what happens I am going to take pictures of it daily and keep a record of what is happening.  I will keep it posted here every 4 days or so.

It is an infectious DNA virus that comes from cattle.  There is vaccines to give cattle for it.  Cattle can carry it and not have the sarcoids but it is still infectious.  It is primarily found in calves under 3 years of age. It can be transmitted by tack, ropes, halters or anything that touches the cattle who carry it.

Since so far none of the other horses have it I'm going to quarantine Skyla to the barn during treatment.  Now I guess I will also be paranoid about checking all the horses every time I feed.  It is usually only found in young horses although older horses can get it.  Unluckily I have cattle all the way around me so I guess I'll be doing lots more research to see if there is any way to protect my horses from it, especially since I have 3 pregnant mares.

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