In a follow-up to a report two weeks ago on the Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) outbreak in Tennessee racing quarter horses, the Department of Agriculture puts the outbreak total at 19.
All are connected to two locations in Rutherford County and Bedford County. The investigation is ongoing.
EP is a blood parasite that affects equines. Although it can be transmitted through infected ticks, today it is 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 may 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 may 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 a needle is required, use a new sterile needle and syringe on every horse and clean and disinfect all equine equipment that may 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.