Fresh frozen equine plasma is an extremely useful treatment for equines with a variety of systemic illnesses. It is most commonly used in horses with intestinal diseases, especially bacterial infection (bacterial colitis or enteritis).
Plasma provides albumin, antibodies and a variety of other factors that contribute to immunity and general health. Plasma is also thought to have some anti-endotoxic effects, another useful attribute in the treatment of intestinal diseases that are often accompanied by endotoxemia.
Hyperimmune plasma comes from horses that have been repeatedly vaccinated against particular agents, causing high antibody levels against that organism in the plasma. Plasma that has been hyperimmunized to particular agents may be a life-saving treatment for horses affected by particular diseases, such as botulism and tetanus.
Plasma is usually purchased commercially from a company that maintains a herd of healthy donor horses. They periodically collect blood from these horses, the plasma (liquid portion) is separated from the cellular portion, filtered and purified. It is then packaged and frozen. Plasma is then ordered and shipped overnight to your veterinarian, who stores it frozen until it is needed.
When needed, the frozen plasma is thawed by your vet and administered through a special fitered blood administration set, and into an intravenous catheter. Horses being administered plasma are monitored carefully to ensure they are tolerating this treatment.
This Treatment Might be used for a horse exhibiting these signsRelated Observations
Related DiagnosesThis Treatment Might Be Used for these Diagnoses
Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications
Anaphylaxis (body-wide allergic response) is rare but is possible. Rapid respiration, increasing heart rate, and changes in the appearance of gums and skin could indicate this life threatening complication.
There is a small risk of transmission of contaminants or viruses in blood products.
Rarely, equines that have been given plasma can end up with serum sickness; liver disease (a/k/a Tyler's Disease).
Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment
Plasma may not be tolerated by some horses. They may show signs of systemic allergy (anaphylaxis), including drastic elevations in heart and respiratory rates and/or hives.
Plasma is expensive and may not be an option for horse owners on a budget.
Skills I might need
Is It working? Timeframe for effect
The clinical effects of plasma should be evident within a few hours.
It may require large quantities of plasma (many liters) to significantly increase plasma albumin levels.
Questions To Ask My Vet
- Do you recommend plasma for my horse with intestinal disease?
- How much will the use of plasma add to the cost of treatment?
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