WEG Equine Piroplasmosis Protocol Released

After years in development, a plan that allows horses positive for equine piroplasmosis to enter the United States in order to compete in the Alltech 2010 World Equestrian Games was recently presented to the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) General Assembly. The Games, to be held Sept. 25-Oct. 10, 2010, represent the world championships of the eight FEI disciplines. This is the first time the Games will be held outside of Europe.

Equine piroplasmosis is a blood-borne disease that can cause sickness in horses that have not been previously exposed. In areas of the world where the disease is more common, it can be transmitted by carrier horses that have encountered the disease previously and that carry both the causative organism and antibodies in their blood.

The World Games 2010 Foundation coordinated with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to organize this protocol.

WEG piroplasmosis protocol

Keeping America's Horses Healthy: Dr. Kent Allen discusses the WEG piroplasmosis protocol.
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"Effectively negating the piroplasmosis risk for both competition horses and the domestic horse population is a primary focus for our team, as part of our overall importation and quarantine plan," said Kent Allen, DVM, veterinary services coordinator for the event. "We want all horses to enter a healthy environment, and to leave the Games from a healthy environment."

The piroplasmosis organism requires specific tick species to complete its life cycle. For the organism to spread, this species of tick must feed on an infected horse, then drop off and feed on a non-infected horse.

The protective control plan consists of multiple factors designed to reduce the prevalence and introduction of ticks to the environment in and around the Kentucky Horse Park. Over the past several years, the USDA, KDA, and APHIS have conducted extensive studies and testing to better understand the area's tick population. The studies identified that the tick population drops significantly during the fall season when the Games will be held.

"The health and well-being of the horse is at the core of everything we must do in preparation for these Games," said World Games Foundation Chairman John Long. "We are fortunate to have a team of state and federal agencies working with veterinary officials and experts to ensure that all horses enter and leave the country in the best environmental circumstances."

Multiple tick mitigation practices and policies will be implemented to further reduce risk. These practices include natural tick barriers, establishing designated grazing areas treated with tick retardant agents, and separate stabling and frequent inspection of horses upon reentry into the stables. Horses will be treated with an equine dewormer that effectively kills attached ticks before they are allowed entry.

In addition, horses positive for piroplasmosis will be shipped directly from their quarantine center to separate stables within the Kentucky Horse Park. They will be required to leave the country directly from these stables.

"The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is confident that these procedures will protect all horses at the 2010 Games," said Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. "We are supportive of the Foundation's efforts to ensure the health and safety of both competition horses and the domestic horse population."

These protective strategies will allow the entire park to be utilized by all competition horses during the 2010 Games, while providing the needed assurance that the U.S. domestic horse population is not put at risk.

Read more at "Vet Preparations in Progress for World Equestrian Games."  

For further information on the protocol, see the APHIS Web site.  

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