Florida Piroplasmosis Investigation Wraps Up; Positive Horses Removed

According to a Nov. 5 statement released by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, none of the horses that tested positive for piroplasmosis during a recent investigation remain on Florida properties. Six quarantines remain in effect.

The premises will remain under quarantine until they pass 60 days after exposure, tests on remaining horses are negative, and no positive or foreign ticks are found. One premises could be released later this week.

The evidence at this time continues to implicate management practices in the spread of the disease, as no foreign ticks or ticks carrying the organism that causes equine piroplasmosis have been found.

Equine piroplasmosis was eradicated officially from Florida (and, thereby, the United States) in 1988, so one of the big questions when these cases popped up was that of its source. Investigators have since determined that horses on the index premises (the first premises where positive horses were found) had been in direct contact with positive horses imported to Florida from Mexico. According to Mike Short, DVM, equine programs manager for Florida's Division of Animal Industry, all of these horses are from the local-level "brush track" Quarter Horse racing circuit or are connected directly to that industry.

Equine piroplasmosis is considered a foreign animal disease; the United States has screened all imported horses for piroplasmosis for nearly 30 years.

As a result of these cases, horses exporting to Canada from the State of Florida must meet the following additional requirements:

  • An Import permit (for the Canadian importer)
  • The horse(s) are inspected by a veterinarian within fifteen (15) days preceding the date of importation;
  • Certification statements on the export health certificate:
  • The horse(s) have not been on a premises where equine piroplasmosis (clinical or serology) has occurred during the 60 days immediately preceding exportation to Canada, nor has this disease occurred on any adjoining premises during the same period of time.
  • They must have tested negative using a cELISA test or, where applicable, an alternate test acceptable to CFIA for equine piroplasmosis, during the fifteen (15) days prior to the date of importation into Canada.

Canada has also asked for additional certification for equines from other states, for all certificates issued after Sept.15, 2008:

"During the previous twenty-one (21) days, the animal(s) in this shipment has/have not been in the state of Florida"

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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