Piroplasmosis Confirmed at New Mexico Training Facility

A private racehorse training facility in southern New Mexico is under quarantine after a single horse there was confirmed positive for equine piroplasmosis (EP).

The New Mexico Livestock Board imposed the quarantine—no horses in, no horses out—at Jovi Training Stables, in Sunland Park, late Friday (March 18). Equine piroplasmosis is a blood-borne protozoal disease that affects all equine species, but is not transmissible to humans. It is transmitted by ticks, or mechanically via improperly sanitized syringes and the like. Mild forms of EP can appear as weakness and lack of appetite. More severe signs include fever, anemia, weight loss, swelling of the limbs, and labored breathing. Death can occur in some cases.

The disease is unrelated to the equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak which recently affected Jovi Training Facilities and other tracks and training facilities in the area.

“It is important to keep in mind that equine piroplasmosis is nowhere near as transmissible as EHV-1,” said Bill Bunce, the executive director of the New Mexico Livestock Board. “Compared to the EHV-1 outbreak, we are looking at a vastly different scenario here."

Because tick-spread diseases are very uncommon in the dry climate of southern New Mexico, Bunce said "the chances are very good that we are looking at an isolated case.

Still, "to ensure the disease is not widespread and to prevent further risk to the racing industry, we will be completing all regulatory testing and surveillance steps," Bunce added. "That's in addition to the quarantine that prevents horses from entering or leaving Jovi—meaning that during the quarantine period, no horses from Jovi will be admitted at Sunland Park Racetrack.”

Piroplasmosis is not considered endemic in the United States, but surveillance of the disease has increased in tandem with the increasingly international nature of horse racing. As such, the New Mexico Racing Commission requires that Quarter Horses at sanctioned racetracks in New Mexico be tested for EP once every two years.

Racehorse owners who have had horses at Jovi recently are advised to contact their veterinarian for medical questions and to contact the livestock board for quarantine questions.

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