Today’s Topic: Equine piroplasmosis

by | Aug 17, 2010

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with the Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Southern Farm Network logoThis week, Rhonda and Commissioner Troxler talk about equine piroplasmosis, a blood disease that affects horses, donkeys and mules. North Carolina has joined 19 other states with identified cases of the disease in horses.

EP is a blood-borne disease primarily transmitted to horses by ticks or contaminated needles. North Carolina is not considered to have the tick species believed to transmit EP. This disease is not directly contagious from one horse to another but requires direct blood transfer. Human infection with EP is extremely rare.

Lab tests of blood samples have confirmed the presence of EP in 11 horses in four North Carolina counties. State Veterinarian David Marshall has quarantined the premises where the horses resided. The quarantine means that no horses can be moved from these locations.

Horse owners should monitor their horses carefully and contact their veterinarian if they suspect this disease. By law, suspected cases must be reported to the State Veterinarian’s Office.

Horses with acute cases of EP can have depression, fever, anemia and jaundiced mucous membranes. EP can also cause horses to have rough coats, constipation and colic. In its milder form, the disease causes horses to appear weak and show lack of appetite. Some horses become chronic carriers of EP and never show any clinical signs of the disease.

The disease was eradicated from the United States in 1988, but showed up in horses in Florida two years ago.

Listen in as Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this disease and how horse owners can protect their animals.

NOTE: Due to a technical glitch, audio is currently unavailable through In the Field. Please click here to listen to the audio on Southern Farm Network’s Ag Daily website.