BLM Horses Improving After Salmonella Outbreak

 Wild horses at the Nevada Bureau of Land Management's Palomino Valley Center are improving after 156 died or were euthanatized due to a range of illnesses, including an outbreak of salmonella that prompted BLM officials to close the center to the public Sept. 26.

"The recovering horses are adapting to their diet of hay," said JoLynn Worley, BLM spokesperson. "They're stabilizing and putting on weight."

The recovering horses are among 983 gathered from the Jackson Mountain area and brought to the Palomino Valley Center in late August and early September. However, Worley said, several horses in the herd arrived at the facility showing signs of having weathered a drought-plagued summer in the desert.

"There are always some horses in a gather that are in poor condition or that have a hard time transitioning to normal feed, but not this many," she said. "This time all the wrong conditions came together.

"The horses were eating brush because no grass was available and they had limited water," Worley explained. "Salmonella is present in all animals' guts, but horses' digestive systems are particularly sensitive. The harsh diet contributed to the Salmonella blooming out of control.'

Because Salmonella bacteria is easily spread among horses and humans, facility managers voluntarily closed the facility to the public in late September and imposed a restriction on the movement of affected horses. Although none of the horses currently shows signs of active salmonella, the site remains closed to the public.

"We'll look at the possibility of opening in three weeks," Worley said.

The Palomino Valley Center is a regional wild horse and burro adoption facility located 20 miles north of Sparks, Nev. There are currently 1,350 horses at the facility, 850 of them from the Jackson Mountain gather.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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