Haemoglobinuria is an acute blood disease characterized by sudden and severe lameness in one hind-limb, general paralysis, and dark discoloration of the urine, which is loaded with albumen. This disease used to be called hysteria, because first observed in mares. It is found, however, to be equally prevalent in geldings, and stallions are also sometimes affected by it. It usually comes on after work following upon a short period of rest. Horses in high condition who receive large rations of highly nutritious food are specially liable to it.
Fig. 210. - Horse Suffering from Haemo-globinuria.
The late Professor Williams described the deposit thrown down on the addition of an acid to the urine as nitrate of urea. In 1883 Professor Axe combated the view enunciated by Williams and others who regard the disease as the outcome of an immoderate accumulation of urea in the blood, and he adduced a large amount of chemical and pathological evidence in support of his contention.
In regard to the condition of the urine the Professor showed by a series of chemical analyses: - 1. That the precipitate thrown down on the addition of nitric acid and subsequent boiling is essentially albumen, and not urea as was stated by Williams. 2. That the discoloration is due to the colouring matter of the blood. 3. That while the amount of urea contained in the urine varies in different cases, it cannot be said to exist in any abnormal proportion. He further stated that the simple presence of urea in the serum of the blood, as referred to by Williams, is no indication of its being the disease-producing agent, inasmuch as urea is normally present in it. As to the specific gravity of the urine, the Professor observed that in none of the cases to which his attention had been directed had any marked increase been observed. In respect of the composition of the urine, he had noticed a considerable diminution in the amount of the calcium carbonate, and a notable increase in the ammonio-magnesium phosphates.
In speaking of the condition of the tissues after death he dwelt on the general septicaemic character of the changes, and specially referred to their oedematous condition. In a case recently brought under his notice the amount of fluid contained in the muscular and hepatic tissues was estimated and compared with that contained in the same structures in health, with the result stated below.