Texas Epidemic Poses No Threat to Equines

A recent Brucella melitensis epidemic that has been associated with the death of more than 120 goats in South Texas is not a likely threat to horses, said Terry Conger, the Texas Animal Health Commission’s (TAHC) state epidemiologist. Brucella melitensis is a form of brucellosis, which is a rare disease seen in horses sharing pasture or housing with cattle or pigs infected with brucella bacteria. Brucellosis most commonly manifests itself in the form of fistulous bursitis (inflammation of bursae, the fluid-filled sacs found in certain places where friction is a problem in tissues), and is more commonly referred to as fistulous withers.

The main concern of TAHC authorities was the risk to human and livestock health. Contact with infected goats, unpasteurized goat milk, cheese, or raw goat meat products increases the risk of contracting the disease. Cooked meat from infected animals is safe to consume. Goats are most susceptible to the virus, followed by sheep, cattle, swine, dogs, and humans. “Since a horse is a mammal, it is not impossible (that it would be infected), but I have no personal experience of the disease affecting horses,” added Conger.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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