March 21, 2018
Equine Piroplasmosis: 19 Horses Confirmed Positive in Tennessee
The Tennessee state veterinarian’s office’s investigation into an equine piroplasmosis (EP) outbreak in a group of racing Quarter Horses has revealed additional EP-positive horses.
Nineteen horses have now tested positive for EP in Middle Tennessee. All are connected to two locations in Rutherford County and Bedford County. The investigation is ongoing, and the identified horses are under federal quarantine.
Piroplasmosis is a blood parasite that affects equines. Although it can be transmitted through infected ticks, it is currently more commonly spread by blood and blood-products through the sharing of needles; syringes; or improperly cleaned and disinfected dental, tattoo, surgical, or blood-product equipment between infected and uninfected horses.
It can take as long as 30 days for an infected horse to test positive for the disease after exposure. Early clinical signs can range from weakness and lack of appetite to swelling of limbs and labored breathing. Horses that survive the acute phase continue to carry the parasite for an extended period of time. Horses that test positive for the disease are quarantined and could be euthanized.
Horses will not transmit the disease to other horses through casual contact. However, it is critical that horse handlers practice good biosecurity. If needle-use is required, use a new sterile needle and syringe on every horse and clean and disinfect all equine equipment that could be contaminated with blood.
Some states and equine competitions require EP testing for entrance. If you plan to travel with your horse, check with the receiving state for current import requirements.
Franklin Equine Services posted in their facebook page: “Piroplasmosis cannot be spread through casual horse-to-horse contact. Typically it is transmitted by ticks or the use of non-sterile needles & syringes. Always use sterile supplies & techniques when giving your horse injections.”
Find out more about Equine Piroplasmosis at the AAEP website: http://www.aaep.org/info/horse-health?publication=758
The APHIS fact sheet on Equine Prioplasmosis is available from their website: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/fs_equipir.pdf
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