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Infection in the lymphatic system, usually in the legs. The bacteria get into the body by small cuts or scrapes, and invade the lymphatic tracts.  As the bacteria move through the lymphatic system, they cause the vessels to become inflamed. Since the bacteria grow so quickly, the immune system is unable to respond quickly enough to prevent the infection from forming.  It is very painful and can become very serious without attention.


  • Reluctance to move, unable to move, or moving with great difficulty.
  • Very swollen leg with heat and pitting edema (when the area is pressed, an impression is left in the skin)
  • Extremely painful to the touch


  • Assess your horse’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate
  • See if there are any wounds, cuts, scratches or scrapes on that leg
  • Call your veterinarian
  • Cold hose the leg with as much water pressure as the horse will tolerate for 30 to 45 minutes


  • Antibiotic therapy needs to be instituted as soon as possible for the best prognosis.
  • Your veterinarian may have you give some Banamine or Bute.
  • Be able to tell your veterinarian if your horse is up to date on tetanus, if he has had lymphangitis before, as well as any other medical conditions currently ongoing.