By NewsDesk   @bactiman63

Tennessee officials are reporting an outbreak of Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) in a group of racing Quarter Horses in Middle Tennessee.

Beautiful horses
Public domain image/Dusan Bicanski

Twenty-two horses have tested positive for EP in five locations within Bedford, Rutherford, and Williamson Counties. The horses are all under quarantine and being treated.

EP agents can be spread by certain species of ticks, which transfer the parasites (Babesia caballi and/or Babesia (Theileria equi) from one horse to another.

However, agriculture officials say it is more commonly spread by blood and blood products through the sharing of needles, syringes, or improperly cleaned and disinfected dental, 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 equipment that may be contaminated with blood.