The state veterinarian’s office is investigating an outbreak of Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) in a group of racing Quarter Horses in Middle Tennessee.
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 is a blood parasite that affects equines. The disease is not contagious to humans. Although it can be transmitted through infected ticks, 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.
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.
The state veterinarian is responsible for monitoring for and preventing the spread of animal disease, as well as promoting animal health in Tennessee. The office works with private veterinarians, animal pathologists, and disease diagnostic laboratories to identify diseases and determine the cause of animal deaths.