Equine Piroplasmosis Reported in Ireland

Animal health authorities in Ireland are reporting equine piroplasmosis among Thoroughbred racehorses in County Meath. Nearly 30 animals have tested positive for the disease, stated a report issued to the World Organization for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties, or OIE) by Paddy Rogan, MVB, MRCVS, chief veterinary officer in the Department of Agriculture and Food. See the report.  

According to the Sept. 8 report, clinical signs including fever, anemia, and poor performance were first noted in June. Testing Sept. 7 showed 28 positive horses out of a group of 60 animals, including 59 racehorses and one pony. The animals have been quarantined.

A notifiable disease in Ireland since July 2009, equine piroplasmosis has not been officially reported in Ireland before, although it is understood that a previous incursion did take place, said a statement from the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Equine piroplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by either of two different protozoal parasites that attack red blood cells. It is characterized by fever, anemia, weight loss, jaundice, and, in some cases, death. The case fatality rate can be up to 20% in naive horses (those which have never been exposed). Some infected horses might recover and become inapparent carriers of the parasite.

United States officials have screened all imported horses for piroplasmosis for nearly 30 years.

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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