ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Poll Evil

Updated on November 28, 2017

The Poll

The poll is the top of a horse's head just behind the ears, over the first two vertebra of the neck. In a typical posture, the poll is the highest part of the horse other than the ears. The crown piece of a bridle passes across the poll as it goes over the top of the horse's head.

Horse Anatomy
Horse Anatomy | Source

Poll Evil

If the horses injures it head or its bridle chafes the poll area this can allow bacteria to invade. An infected animal may show no symptoms for as long as two years. But then the infection will cause swelling, large swollen areas and even a discharging fistula on each side of the neck.

This is very rare now, but historical was quite common with working horses, and was referred to as "poll evil". The name of the condition was derived from the aggressive way a suffering horse would act, to avoid being bridled and experiencing more pain.

A similar condition at the top of the shoulders was referred to as fistula of the withers or fistulous withers. In severe cases the swellings will burst and allow for secondary infections, and the horse may suffer from lameness and lethargy.

Horse with poll evil (1917)
Horse with poll evil (1917)

In History

The condition of poll evil may go back almost as far as the domestication of the horse. A case has been described based on the remains of the horse that lived in the first millennium BC.

For most of the period treatments would have been largely ineffective, mainly mechanical interventions like draining of fluids. There were also many folk remedies such as poultices and treatments that did more harm than good such as the use of caustic chemicals.

Poll evil exacerbated by the use of caustic agents
Poll evil exacerbated by the use of caustic agents | Source

Now Rare

Poll evil is now very rare in developed nations for multiple reasons:

  • Poorly designed stables with low doorways ad ill fitting tack is less common now that most horses are used in sport and leisure rather than labor. thus the kind of injury that can lead to poll evil is less common.
  • The types of bacteria that cause the condition (such as Brucell abortus) are now less common. Horses with infections in the 1930s would be found to positive for Brucella abortus about 5-40% of the time, by the 1970s this rate had dropped to 2%. The main source of infection was most likely cattle or pigs that have Brucellosis. In cattle this infection was traditionally referred to a "Bang's disease".
  • The condition can now be more effectively treated with antibiotics.

An old system for bandaging a horse with poll evil
An old system for bandaging a horse with poll evil

Suppurative atlantal bursitis

In modern terms poll evil is called suppurative atlantal bursitis and fistulous withers is referred to as suppurative supraspinous bursitis.

It is more likely to occur with horses that are in contact with wildlife like elk or bison who may still carry brucellosis, and the condition is more common in older horses.

This condition is also still common in less developed areas such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa where Brucella abortus is still a common infection of livestock.

Humans

Humans can also contract Brucelosis by being in contact with infected animals. It can cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue and joint paint.

Human patient with Brucellosis
Human patient with Brucellosis

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)