This is one of the most destructive of joint ailments. Foals a few days old are its most common victims, although now and again older horses suffer from it also. It ranks with the infective diseases, and results from the entrance of septic organisms into the blood-stream through a wound or broken surface. It is very destructive of joints, and the patient rarely recovers.


It occurs in foals a few days after birth, when the newly broken navel - string affords an opportunity for the entrance of septic organisms into the blood-stream through the vessels of the cord.

Males are more frequently attacked than females. The most susceptible period is from five days to three weeks old.

The onset of the disease is marked by slight dulness and depression, with a disposition to lie about. This is quickly followed by swelling on one or more of the joints, chiefly the stifle, knee, hock, or elbow.

From the rapidity with which the swelling develops and the intensity of the lameness, owners and attendants frequently refer the disorder to injury inflicted by the dam,- an impression which is sometimes difficult to remove until joint after joint becomes involved in the disease. The enlargement of the joint commences by distension of the capsule, and soon extends to the surrounding tissues. It is hot, firm, and painful to the touch; small, soft, fluctuating points appear here and there, which break and discharge a quantity of yellowish-gray pus (matter). The lameness is very severe and mostly forbids the imposition of weight upon the limb, which is carried or lightly brought into contact with the ground during progression.

In addition to these local symptoms there are noticeable a high temperature, increased respiration, great prostration, an indisposition to suck, and other signs of a fever attack.

Death usually takes place from the fourth to the eighth day after the onset of the disease. In some cases it kills in thirty-six hours, and in others it is prolonged over three or four or more weeks.


Treatment of pyaemic arthritis is discouraging to the last degree, and the percentage of recoveries so small as to be regarded as a negligible quantity.

It is rare indeed that recovery takes place, for in addition to extensive disorganization of joints the blood is saturated with the poison of pyaemia, and the young thing has but little strength to resist it.

In the few cases where life is preserved the damaging effects of the disease on the affected joints leave the animal a cripple for life and an undesirable possession.

Having regard to the serious losses which this affection annually occasions in our large and fashionable studs, and the resistance it offers to treatment, it behoves breeders of horses to give every consideration to those more reliable measures by which the disease may be prevented.

It has been already pointed out that a wound to be infected, and organisms to infect it, are the essential factors in the origin of the disease, and to protect the one against the other is all that is needed to ensure its prevention.

To do this requires a considerable amount of care and attention, first as regards the sanitary condition of the box and its surroundings, and secondly as to the navel wound by which the poison enters the body of the foal.

The foaling-box should be large, well-ventilated, efficiently drained, and situated away from the crew-yard and other filthy sites. It should have a washable floor, and an interior the whole of which can be readily disinfected and washed or lime-whited. At the commencement of every season it should receive a thorough cleansing and disinfection from floor to ceiling, and this should be repeated from time to time as foaling proceeds. The box should be well littered with clean straw, which must be removed and replaced by a fresh supply as each mare passes out. At the same time the floor should be freely dressed with disinfecting solution and covered with lime.

So soon as the foal is born the navel-string should at once receive a thorough soaking with a five-per-cent solution of carbolic acid, and half an hour after be dusted over with boracic acid powder. If it is necessary to ligate or tie anything round it, catgut, macerated for some time in carbolized oil, should be used. In all well-appointed studs a bottle containing a link of this material is kept ready for use.

It is of the first importance that whoever has the handling of the umbilical cord should not only have clean hands but should have previously dressed them with an efficient disinfectant.

The navel, the cord attached to it, and skin about it, should be freely disinfected three or four times a day with fluid dressing, and afterwards-covered with a powder of boracic acid and iodoform.

Until healing of the umbilical wound has been completed foals should not be allowed to scamper over manure heaps, or dirty roads, or any unclean surface.