USDA Releases Equine Piroplasmosis Literature Review

Concerns about equine piroplasmosis (EP), a blood-borne disease considered to be foreign to the United States, have prompted educational efforts to inform veterinarians and horse owners about the disease. To further these educational efforts, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is releasing A Literature Review of Equine Piroplasmosis. This comprehensive report on EP was designed to serve as a resource for veterinarians and others within the equine industry.

The report is available at the APHIS website. No hard copies of the report will be published by USDA-APHIS.

Although EP is primarily transmitted to horses by ticks, this blood-borne disease has been spread mechanically from animal to animal via contaminated blood and syringes/needles. Once infected, a horse might not show signs of disease for seven to 22 days, and some horses may never show any clinical signs. Cases of EP can be mild or acute. In its mild form, EP causes the horse to appear weak and to show a lack of appetite. Acutely affected equids can have fever, anemia, jaundiced mucous membranes, swollen abdomens, and labored breathing. The disease can also cause a roughened hair coat, constipation, and colic.

Other USDA information about EP, including the fact sheets "Equine Piroplasmosis" and "Protect YourHorses from Piroplasmosis," is available at the APHIS website. Reports of recent EP cases are available from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

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