The New Mexico Livestock Board imposed a quarantine — no horses in, no horses out — on a private racehorse-training facility in southern New Mexico after a single horse there was confirmed to have the parasitic disease– equine piroplasmosis (EP).

Beautiful horses
Public domain image/Dusan Bicanski

The quarantine was imposed on Jovi Training Stables late Friday after one horse there was confirmed to have EP. EP is a bloodborne disease transmitted by ticks, or mechanically via improperly sanitized syringes and the like. Mild forms of EP can appear as weakness and lack of appetite. More severe signs include fever, anemia, weight loss, swelling of the limbs, and labored breathing. Death may occur in some cases.

Humans cannot get equine piroplasmosis.

In addition, the Livestock Board reminds that EP is unrelated to  to equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), which recently affected Jovi Training Facilities and other tracks and training facilities in the area.

“It is important to keep in mind that equine piroplasmosis is nowhere near as transmissible as EHV-1,” said Bill Bunce, the executive director of the New Mexico Livestock Board. “Compared to the EHV-1 outbreak, we are looking at a vastly different scenario here.”

Because tick-spread diseases are very uncommon in the dry climate of southern New Mexico, Bunce said “the chances are very good that we are looking at an isolated case.”

“To ensure the disease is not widespread and to prevent further risk to the racing industry, we will be completing all regulatory testing and surveillance steps,” Bunce added.

“That’s in addition to the quarantine that prevents horses from entering or leaving Jovi — meaning that during the quarantine period, no horses from Jovi will be admitted at Sunland Park Racetrack.”

EP is not considered endemic in the United States, but surveillance of the disease has increased in tandem with the increasingly international nature of horseracing. As such, the New Mexico Racing Commission requires that quarterhorses at sanctioned racetracks in New Mexico be tested for EP once every two years.